Seattle's Taproot Theatre Creates Discussion Around Race, Status
Play 'Brownie Points' Coincides with 'Neighbors and Strangers' Event
Brian Stimson Of The Skanner News
June 02, 2011For most of the year, Taproot Theatre’s audience is not what you would call diverse. But at least according to new demographic reports, neither is Seattle.
The theatre is hoping to bring together a variety of people to experience the play “Brownie Points” and the accompanying “Neighbors & Strangers” – a discussion centered around the sometimes touchy subjects of race, identity, privilege and more.
“We were aware of these census reports and we thought that now is a good time to host this,” said Taproot’s Sonja Lowe.
The play, written by a Jewish woman from Atlanta, is about a diverse group of mothers who go on a mother/daughter camping trip and end up exploring themes of race, identity and motherhood, as well as the presumptions they all have about each other.
Every Thursday during the play’s run, Taproot will be holding a post-play discussion. In addition, the free event “Neighbors and Stangers” will expand this conversation with a panel of experts that includes Pastor Patrinell Wright, founder of Total Experience Gospel Choir; Rabbi Mark S. Glickman, congregations Kol Ami and Kol Shalom; Dr. Ron Ruthruff; and Karen Lund, director of Taproot. The event will be held 7 to 9 p.m. on June 13. Admission is free, but an RSVP is required. Priority Seating is given to ticket holders of any performance of “Brownie Points.”
Lowe, who helped organize the events at Taproot, says they wanted to create a way for the audience to interact with the show. They asked The Johns Perkins Center at Seattle Pacific University to help. So far, Caenisha Warren, of the John Perkins Center, says the discussion has related to the personal experiences of the residents of Seattle and surrounding communities.
“You never know how people will respond,” she told The Skanner News.
While holding discussions on race and similar issues isn’t new to the center (whose full name is the John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training and Community Development), Warren said that the play will allow people who are not normally drawn to these events to engage in the conversation.
“When we hold these events, usually you have people who self-select,” she said.
But now, Lowe hopes to attract a more diverse audience to mix with Taproot’s seasonal ticket holders, similar to what happened when the playhouse put on “Gee’s Bend” several years ago. The play told the story of a group of African American quiltmakers from the Alabama town known, in the real world, for their most impressive sewing and patchwork skills.
“Brownie Points” by Janece Shaffer runs through June 18 Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. Visit http://taproottheatre.org.