By Eleanor Burgess
Directed by JEREMY RASHAD BROWN
January 16 - February 2, 2020
Eleanor Burgess’s incendiary new drama THE NICETIES is an explosive discussion of race, history, privilege, and social justice. “A barnburner of a play…about who gets to tell the story of America, and how.” (The Washington Post) Directed by Jeremy Rashad Brown, THE NICETIES runs January 16-February 2, 2020. Starring in this exciting new drama are Austin newcomer Jacqui Calloway and long-time Austin theatre fixture Francesca Christian.
I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, a picturesque city with a heavy legacy. It is thought that 40 percent of all US slaves entered the country there. Even today, if you pick up an issue of Charleston Weddings, you’ll find photos of 300+ guests celebrating at plantations without a single person of color in sight. In many ways, this country is still deeply segregated and divided.
As a nation, we must acknowledge our structural issues, past and present. We must learn how to understand and relate to people who might, at first glance, seem very different to us.
At one point in the play, my character says, “I want this to be your problem. I have spent my life living with this problem.” These words resonate with me in a way that few have. It is not every day that you get to speak your truth without facing serious repercussions.
Activism has never been safe. I am grateful to Eleanor Burgess for these words and to Jarrott Productions for taking on a timely and provocative play.
I’m drawn to The Niceties because it takes on important ideas about race, privilege and social justice. These issues are explored on multiple levels: personal, political, historical, the mundane/everyday, etc. Here you have two people who care deeply about the world, and minority populations in particular. Yet they differ greatly in how they play out their beliefs, both in terms of their factual knowledge and “lived” experience.
This play is confrontational. The dialogue is full of passion, idealism, questions and demands. We’re invited to a fight: two people vehemently defending their personal visions of what is right and what is wrong, what is true and what is false. This play has caused me to think (and re-think) where I land on that spectrum, and I also think it’s pretty funny too!
Questions come up: Is America working? What’s at stake? Is there hope for the future? Who gets to do the talking? We also have Google and the internet as (kind of) back-drop characters, offering a steady stream of messy public discourse. Everyone has an opinion! Did I mention the laughs?
Jeremy Rashad Brown
Zaria S El Fil
PRODUCTION STAGE MANAGER
Carlo Lorenzo Garcia
BOX OFFICE/HOUSE MANAGER