By Anya Shukla
“It’s a party in the USA,” Miley Cyrus giggles over the audio system as I enter the Seattle Public Theater. As the audience chats, the music shifts to Lee Greenwood, who sings gruffly, “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.” Seeing as we’re about to see a play about four white people struggling to create a historically accurate play about Thanksgiving, the choice of music is darkly ironic. Who gets to be an American? we’re asked even before the play starts. Are all Americans really free?
As the lights go down, we are greeted with a video of a Thanksgiving performance by elementary schoolers. As they cheerfully chant about what “the Natives gave to me” while wearing stereotypical Native American costumes, the audience cringes. This song, and those like it, are juxtaposed with that of Cyrus and Greenwood’s view of America. Even though we may believe that we are in, as one The Thanksgiving Play character states, “a post-post-racial society,” misrepresentation and prejudicial thinking still occur.
By Anya Shukla
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Although I had been warned by the sign at the front door--CAUTION: LOUD GUNSHOTS—I still started, pretzeled my arms into my chest, when the trigger was finally pulled. I sat, head buzzing, as the murderer monologued for the final two minutes of the play. The lights went down amidst audience mumblings, then I stood clapping with the room while the actors bowed. My chest was tight with anxiety all through the talkback, the drive home, my pre-bed face wash; even now, I can easily picture the muzzle flash. If art’s job is to affect individuals, then Pass Over deserves a raise.
Our most recent video interviewee is Kaylyn Ready, a hip-hop dancer from the Westlake Affiliates dance team. Kaylyn initially started her arts journey with drama, performing in plays and musicals at her high school, Nathan Hale. She then moved to hip-hop dance in sophomore year, inspired by her mom, a contemporary dancer with her own dance company, Evoke Productions. Kaylyn speaks about her performing arts experience, and why she chose to focus on hip-hop for the past few years. Watch the video below!
We recently published our first video, featuring J'Dyn Plater! J'Dyn, a recent Lakeside High School graduate who will be going to Emory in the fall, has been performing from a young age. She's participated in many plays and musicals; this year, she is one of the National Finalists for the August Wilson Monologue Competition (hosted by Seattle Rep). We interviewed J'Dyn to learn more about how her race has affected her artistic career so far. Check out the video below!