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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Discomfort Zone: Dutchman Performed by the Black Box Theatre Group

The point of theatre – of any form of entertainment – is supposed to make us feel comfortable, right? We lean back in our cushioned movie theater seats while the 101st takes Normandy Beach with severe casualties. We flop on the sofa at home while Buffy dies – only to come back better. We each watch, on average, eight thousand murders by the time we turn thirteen – and it’s “only entertainment.”

It’s a violent world, Mama. Pass the popcorn.

Hopefully, as we grow older, that attitude changes. Thursday, November 15, a group of UMB students performed “Dutchman” as part of the Black Box Theater program at the Harbor Arts Gallery. “Dutchman” proved in turn passionate, provocative, and powerfully moving; everything except the slight entertainment television has accustomed us to.

“Dutchman” is set in the confines of a New York City subway train – a place where drunks and businessmen enter through the same door, a place Langston Hughes described as “mingled / black and white / so near / no room to fear.” Director Jane Walsh captured the look and feel of a moving subway train with the help of

As the play begins, Clay (Theatre Arts student Larry Bryant) is on his way to a party, and being followed by Lula (UMB alum Lorna Noguiera). Lula pieces together an image of Clay with Holmes-ian deductive ability. “You’re a well-known type … or at least a type I know very well,” she tells him: the stereotypical square, a black man wearing a business suit, “clothes from a tradition you ought to be oppressed by.”

But her taunts are cut with flirtations – sweet coquettes and outright come-ons – and, keeping in mind that the play was written in the mid-Sixties, it seems like much of the play would be concerned with this potential relationship between a black man and a white woman. “Will they or won’t they?” makes for scant drama, however, interracial relationships are by and large accepted nowadays. Even having read “Dutchman” before in class, I felt safe, right up until the point Larry picked up Lorna and shook her like a rag doll.

But despite the