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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Under the Veil

One of the photographs featured in the play
Hubert Collins
One of the photographs featured in the play

In 1966 a Boston janitor dies. This man felt that his life was mediocre at best and that his existence was of little significance despite his talent for photography-his true calling. In his Roxbury studio he took photos of many people, but his art was not recognized in mainstream society. That all changed when in 1976, more than 10 years after his death, one-hundred-and-three glass negatives were found in his basement. The images in the photographs demanded attention. The discovery of these negatives unveils the truth of one of Boston’s first black photographers, Hubert Collins, and how his life dissolved into obscurity after the close of his studio. The World Premiere of Company One’s “103 Within the Veil” opened on January 20 at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. The production tells the fictional story behind these historic photographs as developed by playwright Kirsten Greenidge. The stories give life to these haunting and intriguing photographs and capture the imagination of the audience. The intensity of the expressions of many of the subjects in the photos were brought to life by a phenomenal cast made up in part by two of UMB’s own students, Akiba Abaka and Kaili Turner. The two along with the rest of the ensemble created an atmosphere of learning and awakening. The audience got to experience many of the issues facing the black community in the early to mid 1900s. In one of the photo’s stories the disparities between nurses of color those who were white is examined. We learn that although they were of equal intelligence, black nurses were not provided the same opportunities as white nurses. The play also examines the complexities of family life during the same time period. We see the struggles of a young black couple with a new baby. Some of the issues are easily comparable to those families face now, such as mother’s wanting to go to work and husbands not entirely thrilled with the idea. A deeper theme in the play is the difficulty of attaining dreams, particularly the dream Hubert Collins had for being a photographer. As a black man, his aspirations were stifled and pushed aside because of his color. He couldn’t as easily develop in a business that was, for the most part, a white profession. His hardship lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. The silver lining comes in the form of acclaim for his photos, although after his death. The world finally knows of his talent through the discovery of his negatives in 1976. Although not appreciated in his lifetime his photographs are now sought after glimpses into the past and windows into the lives of his subjects.”103 Within the Veil” will play Thursdays/Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 7 p.m. until February 5 at the Boston University Playwright’s Theatre. Tickets are $25, $15 for students/seniors with ID.