Byron Woods review of the Color Purple presented by The Justice Theater Project (JTP) negates the brilliant performance by incorrectly focusing on the lack of enough portrayal of physical homosexual acts to satisfy Mr. Woods. This appears to be what Byron Woods would like the Color Purple stage play to be about but this is not what the author requires it to be. It’s her script. Her play. It does not belong to Mr. Woods.
Mr. Woods insists the central character is a “lesbian”. That label, and the implication that love means physical sexual acts, is precisely NOT how the author wants you to see Celie. The author rightly does not focus undue attention on homosexual physical acts. It could lead the audience to miss the crucial points of the play and of the importance of the relationship between Celie and Shug, and the other characters. For me, the main point is recognizing the abuse we rain down on each other through with-holding love, affection, respect, and caring. And conversely, the redemptive power of love and finding one’s own self-worth. This is not a play about homosexuality in 1920s/30s. It is a play that relates to each of us today regardless of sexual orientation. These themes in the play are critical not just for understanding the Color Purple performance but as a point of discussion relevant to our history, our present, and our future right here in Wake County. This is the reason JTP picked this play as part of our theme this season, which is “Voices that challenge … History, Race, and Education”. Our mission is not just to put on a performance but to be a ministry to “call to the fore of public attention the needs of the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed”.
The following, based on notes from the director, Deb Royals, can perhaps provide some insight to understand the play and the Justice Theater Project’s portrayal as being true to the author’s intent.
Alice Walker's novel was about Celie finding Celie - loving herself and other women - not necessary sexually or nonsexually - women like Sophia and Nettie and Shug - the story is NOT just about her sexual relationship with Shug - it is about all her relationships including the one she finally creates with herself.
The story as a whole is a "womanist" novel. The screen play and the script we bought rights for, and which Alice Walker approved, did not solely focus on the sexual relationship with Shug. JTP would have been in breach of our rights contract to try and change the script. It is bigger than that - it is Celie's story about finding and then loving herself despite herself - her realities as a black woman living in a time when the repercussions of our country's history continued to take a toll on black women. Remember also that what we see in both the film and then the stage play is not the novel. If you are expecting the novel - the play is not that.
Walker was motivated to capture the experience of black southern women in a deeply personal way. It was important to her that the novel speak to black women through the novel's tone and language. For her this included writing in African American folk speak (Luaret, 2000). It was also essential then for Walker to capture the unique experience of black feminists. For her the black "feminist" experience did not align with that of white feminists and it was essential that this distinction be made in her novel. She describes The Color Purple as a womanist novel. Walker coined the term “womanist” in her subsequent work, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens as a way to explain the worldview captured in The Color Purple. Walker explains: “The word feminist is fine, but it leaves out the particular background and culture of black women. Also, womanist is a word I thought the women in my community would understand. I remembered when I was [a] child if I got dressed up sassy in high heels or perfume, someone would say, ‘She looks like a womanish woman.’ So it sounds something like that” (Rosenfeld, 1982). This definition is key in understanding The Color Purple, who Walker is as a person, and the ultimate trajectory of her authorship and politics.
Jim Falanga, Vice-chair Board of Directors, The Justice Theater Project
JTP Education Action Committee
A number of descriptors help define Celie's identity in THE COLOR PURPLE. Battered. Resilient. Poor. Triumphant. African American. Woman. Loving. Lesbian.
If you shortchange or erase any of these, you've done her an injustice. Celie simply isn't Celie unless she's all of these -- because they all play very important parts in who she ultimately becomes.
When this production obviously downplays one (and only one) of these elements, the irresistible question of necessity arises. Why indeed must _any_ of them be eclipsed -- particularly since doing so serves no dramatic purpose?
There must be __some__ reason why heterosexual behavior is clearly given the preferential treatment I've described, but homosexual behavior is so oddly -- and __thoroughly__ -- minimized in this production, despite the fact that the play's central character is lesbian.
Should the director wish to tell us why, this forum is open to her. Thus far, her supporters have yet to articulate a convincing rationale. Or much of anything else.
With everything Celie's been through, can't we be generous enough in spirit to even briefly show her finding relief, sanctuary and communion, at long last, in the arms and the presence of her own beloved? If not, __why__ not?
Who would deny her this? More accurately, in terms of this show, who _did_ deny her this? And for what pressing reason, exactly?
The reason that the lesbianism was not played out the way that you my wanted it to be done Mister has nothing to do with what Justice Theater Project put on display. If you have an issue with the script you may need to take that up with Ms. Alice Walker. Deb and JTP simply acted out the script that they purchased for a great deal of money. Mister, what you wanted would have caused them to have to change the script, which is illegal. Regardless of how you may feel about the lack of lesbianism the production was hands down fantastic. As a critic you should know that scripts for Movies and Stage productions often differ from the novels that carry the same name. Ms. Walker stated that she wanted the stage production to focus more on the journey that Celie went through and how she over came it, did that include a romance with Shug? Yes. But it was not the focus...Great Day Mister...pun intended.
This "Fatal Flaw" I do not think is fatal. The fact that Celie's lesbianism is not showcased is not a flaw. Yes, it was very much downplayed in this production, but in the story itself, Broadway production, movie, or book , Celie's sexual preference was expressed in the scene with Shug and Celie, and then it was a non-"issue". It became part of the back story. It was not featured as a major game-changer throughout the script. The story of Color Purple is about this family's dynamic. I think this review was a bit harsh because it is a good musical. Let's focus on the story and not try to use it to promote the social issues of 2015.
Nice! Can't wait to read it.
I had the opportunity of meeting Chris Tucker very early in his career, in fact I think I booked him on his first TV appearance on a show called Uptown Comedy Club, in Harlen back in the mid 8-'s. What I recall is he's a very funny guy, extremely talented and full of potential. But I got a taste of the 'diva' attitude Jackie Chan spoke of during one of his interviews. Chris tried very hard to embarrass me, saying he didn't get a change in a schedule when my job was solely to kept track of the schedule. He didn't return any calls, shows up when he wanted to then proceeded to curse me out and grand stand in front of a lot of people. He towered over my 5'4' frame, 110lbs but I held my own. He showed me then who he was, never apologized or acknowledge that I forwarded his information onto McDonald's when they called later wanting him to be in a commercial. Mind you, I'm old enough to be his mother, a black woman who didn't get any respect from him. He was rude, hostile and somewhat threatening. I'm not surprised that he's not working as much as he should. He needs a slap upside the head.
My group had a blast at Cipher Escape! We're looking forward to trying the escape game opening in Durham soon - Bull City Escape, www.bullcityescape.com.
The actor credits for that photo were given to us by Deep Dish. After I verify with them that it is incorrect, I will fix it.
Actor credit on The Liar photo is incorrect. That is Matthew Hager not Daniel Doyle.
I'd like to take part in the contest next time. How do I go about it?
I think it's just a matter of differing sensibilities. Hart is a broader comic who appeals to a wider range of people. For better or worse, Louis could never play PNC. Hart is more in the same class with Dane Cook or the a Blue a Collar guys or even Tosh. Meanwhile, Hannibal Buress is very popular with tastemakers because his style is more off-kilter and unpredictable.
To note: The current liscensing from Music Theatre International provides and requires the use of their prerecorded track for the songs Today 4 U and Contact.
Vanessa, Thanks for pointing that out. It has been corrected.
love poem #1! but correction in interview with poet #2: it's Virginia Woolf not Wolfe!!!
A minor correction: I'm the retired Town Manager of Knightdale, not Wake Forest.
We did a background check on Chris before we agreed to do the Kidz Newz with him. The puppets he uses for the Kidz Newz is different than he uses for the Green Report and he's never been arrested.
As for my opinion about legalizing marijuana, I have no use for it, but it's obvious that continuing to spend billions of dollars to fight it, the smart thing would be to legalize and regulate it. We should have learned our lesson with prohibition of alcohol. Same thing.
Saw the Indy cover and immediately knew I had to read the article. I really love that he uses his puppetry for both the community access kids show, and pro-cannabis YouTube puppet show. The article took a hard turn when it delved into the conspiracy theories. Occam's razor is a fantastic concept! It's a pity that the most plausible idea to some involves such amazing complexity.
Anybody who has an infowars bumper sticker can't be all bad.
Cool perspective, but misleading. You guy's missed mentioning the awesome creations on display. Did you bother to check out master builders Jason Burik, Jonathan Lopes huge LEGO displays or the large selection of LEGO Bionicle creations? Personally, my kids who are 8 and 10 were mesmerized by all the creations and loved the Challenge Zone, building zone and architecture area - those areas should have been mentioned. I saw a lot of people of all ages building, learning, and just having a great time!
I m sitting here watching rush hour 3 and I can't stop laughing. Man I miss you so much Mr.Tucker. You are truly one of a kind. Hurry back to the screen. Missing your face.... Ms. Reality
Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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