Posts Tagged ‘Debt’

ASF’s “Nacirema Society” Should Be Broadway-Bound

November 19th, 2022

Remember that rumor? It just came knocking on my front door.” -Grace Dubose Dunbar

For nearly 20 years a proud tradition of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival has been its bold mission to foster and showcase the work of southern storytellers through its Southern Writers Project. The latest offering born of the Project is yet another gem, further heightening the program’s profile and deservedly earning national acclaim.

Pearl Cleage’s “The Nacirema Society Requests the Honor of Your Presence at a Celebration of Their First One Hundred Years” is a witty, intriguing comedy decisively worthy of an international tour.

Set ten years in the shadow of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, it chronicles the Nacirema Society’s feverish planning to mark its centennial, made more dramatic with the anticipated engagement of its primary member’s granddaughter. But lurking behind the ivy-covered walls of gentility and immaculate reputations are a pair of secretive lovers and a shocking family secret, both of which threaten to engulf the event in scandal and to ruin good names. And yet, though it’s the stuff great knuckle-biting dramas are built upon, we as the audience are laughing with total abandon throughout it all.

A truly unique quality of this play is that it offers the perspective of black high society and an arms-length approach to the struggle for civil rights. Invariably plays set during this period focus on the foot soldier activists on the front lines, sitting in at lunch counters and participating in protest marches. This captures the rarely presented viewpoint of black individuals who, although inexorably linked by race to those in the struggle for freedom, are generally removed from those in the trenches fighting the good fight. The event’s organizers even dismissively refer to activities led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, only expressing concern that such things may disrupt the Nacirema Society’s celebration. But this is assuredly not weighty subject matter in the play. It’s merely a sliver of the setting and does not in any way hinder or make somber the comedic aspects of the story.