I was recently invited to attend the play Native Son at Marietta’s New Theatre in the Square. I grew up in Marietta and Theatre in the Square was a fantastic local live entertainment venue I was able to visit through high school and college. The theatre has grown since those days. The brick walkway entrance is still just as welcoming.
(Note: I did attend this event at no cost in exchange for writing this post, However, all opinons are my own.)
Walking in the entrance I approached the box office and was directed down the hall to the ushers. There was an opportunity to purchase some refreshments at the stand, but I wasn’t hungry or thirsty so unfortunately, I didn’t check out what was available (maybe next time, though.) I walked up the steps and entered the essentially black box space. After a brief introduction by director Emil Thomas, the play was underway.
Native Son is a play based on the 1940 novel by Richard Wright and was adapted, for this presentation, by Nambi E. Kelley. I have not read the original book, but that did not lessen the enjoyment of the play. With a minimal cast and stage props, the weight of the play is on the shoulders of the actors and the focus is all on them. They did a great job.
If you don’t know the novel or play, here is a very brief overview. Poor black boy gets a job with a rich white family. Rich white girl and her rich white communist boyfriend cause problems by (possibly inadvertently) confusing and making him uncomfortable. Girl comes onto boy, capturing the attention of rich white blind mother. Boy accidentally kills girl. Boy tries to cover up the death (this is the 1930s and she IS white, he IS black). Boy confesses to his poor black girlfriend, who becomes jealous and nervous. Boy lies to police, blaming boyfriend. Police learn boy is lying. Boy runs, trying to take girlfriend with him. Girlfriend freaks out. Boy kills girlfriend and runs. All the while, boy hears voice of rat in his head (due to being told all his life he is no better than the rats that infest his apartment).
All The Feels
I knew going in, because the director kindly warned us, this would not be a feel-good play. And that was so true. This was an uncomfortable, sad, frightening look into the mindset of a young black man in an uncomfortable, sad, frightening time for young black men. The minimalistic set, the closeness of the theatre, and the small cast gave such an intimate view into this play, the mindset of the author, and the people of the time (art does mirror life, after all). By turns, I laughed, gasped, and cried.
If you are in the Metro Atlanta area and you are looking for an entertaining night out, consider attending a play at Marietta New Theatre in the Square. Starting this Friday, May 18, is La Gringa, a story about a Puerto Rican woman from the US who visits Puerto Rico, experiencing a crisis of identity. For tickets, visit the theatre’s website. Don’t forget, there are a number of restaurants on the Marietta Square to make an entire evening of it all.