A racially charged Durham story in The Best of Enemies | Theater | Indy Week
Pin It

A racially charged Durham story in The Best of Enemies 

Lakeisha Coffey as Ann Atwater in The Best of Enemies.

Photo by Alan Dehmer

Lakeisha Coffey as Ann Atwater in The Best of Enemies.

What year is it on your street?

We used to say of my hometown, "It's 20 miles north of Greensboro, 20 miles south of the Virginia border—and about 20 years back in time." That joke seems less funny in the wake of the horrors of Ferguson, Missouri in August.

Ferguson's population and police seem to live in different decades, and they're not alone. With legislators turning back the calendar in North Carolina, our new electoral district maps seem a twisted grid on which social classes are meticulously segregated according to outmoded values.

In adding video footage from Ferguson to the opening of THE BEST OF ENEMIES, designer Jon Haas reminds us that this remount of Manbites Dog Theater's 5-star production from last December won't be turning into a period piece anytime soon.

The play tells the compelling true story of the unlikely outcome when Department of Health, Education and Welfare staff member Bill Riddick (Thaddaeus Edwards) placed two of Durham's most polarizing figures—Klansman C.P. Ellis (Derrick Ivey) and activist "Roughhouse" Ann Atwater (Lakeisha Coffey)—in charge of a citizens commission on public schools in the 1970s.

It's still a challenging show to watch; the script crackles with venomous racial invective and physical menace. Under Joseph Megel's direction, the trio above gives this work its propulsion, while Elisabeth Lewis Corley captures the desperation of Ellis' wife, Mary.

But the main thing we've learned since Enemies' first iteration is how, given the shattered map of our polis, this chronicle feels less like history lesson than a course on current events—or, one fears, coming attractions.

Tags:

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Theater



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

I personally am remarkably intrigued to see this production but since I can't drive myself to it I will sadly …

by Ryan Oliveira on David Harrower Lives Up to His Name in Blackbird, a Challenging Portrait of Abuse (Theater)

I wholeheartedly agree with the position that there should be more structured, civic support for the thriving arts community in …

by ShellByars on Common Ground Closed. Sonorous Road Might Be Next. Is It Curtains for Small, Affordable Theaters in the Triangle? (Theater)

Thank you to all the people who came to Common Ground to see our eclectic, experimental and ever changing theatre …

by RKlem on Common Ground Closed. Sonorous Road Might Be Next. Is It Curtains for Small, Affordable Theaters in the Triangle? (Theater)

Oh, man. I felt at home when I was on Common Ground. I felt free to create however I chose. …

by Mark Jeffrey Miller on Common Ground Closed. Sonorous Road Might Be Next. Is It Curtains for Small, Affordable Theaters in the Triangle? (Theater)

The Triangle needs to do what Arlington VA did: http://www.arlingtonarts.org/cultural-affairs/arts-incubator.aspx

That said, I've worked in both venues and will …

by Lucinda on Common Ground Closed. Sonorous Road Might Be Next. Is It Curtains for Small, Affordable Theaters in the Triangle? (Theater)

Comments

I personally am remarkably intrigued to see this production but since I can't drive myself to it I will sadly …

by Ryan Oliveira on David Harrower Lives Up to His Name in Blackbird, a Challenging Portrait of Abuse (Theater)

I wholeheartedly agree with the position that there should be more structured, civic support for the thriving arts community in …

by ShellByars on Common Ground Closed. Sonorous Road Might Be Next. Is It Curtains for Small, Affordable Theaters in the Triangle? (Theater)

© 2017 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation