Arnold Wengrow, professor emeritus of drama at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, has launched a new blog, An Asheville Observer: Occasional Observations on Art and the Arts in Asheville.
Wengrow, who founded the theater program at UNC Asheville in 1970, has a long history of producing theater in town, and writing about it, most notably as a contributor to the Asheville Citizen-Times and as contributing editor of Theatre Design and Technology for nearly 20 years.
Here’s a link to his latest review, his take on The Submission, a play staged by Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective at BeBe Theatre. Wengrow calls it a powerful examination of some really tough questions, such as: Can a white man write authentically about black lives? Does a gay man’s experience of oppression equate to a black woman’s?
Here’s a snippet:
Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective says it presents works which “confront issues of social diversity in a provocative way.” With that mission in mind, Beckman, the group’s artistic director, hammers the play’s arguments rather than polishing its subtle satire of identify politics.
Still, she raises an often-debated question: Is it okay for a white writer to tell a black story? We heard that about Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 novel The Help. As Beckman welcomes the audience, there’s a banner behind her announcing the company’s final play of the season: Shakespeare’s Othello. Is this Beckman’s way of answering her own question? Or is it another way of asking it?
Read Wengrow’s full review of The Submission here and consider checking out the play, which runs at BeBe Theatre through Feb. 25. The play, by Jeff Talbott, is directed by Stephanie Hickling Beckman.