Claudia Rankine is perhaps better known as a poet; her book of poetry Citizen: An American Lyric was adapted into a stage play, which I called "powerful, disturbing, and transfixing" when I saw Frank Theatre's production a few years ago. Like that work, her play The White Card takes a searing look at American society and the racism imbedded in its very structure (as one of the characters says, "we were all raised wrong"). But while Citizen is a series of lyrical vignettes, The White Card tells a clear and linear story about a group of people who meet at a dinner party and change the course of each others lives as they're forced to rethink everything they thought they knew.
|just a pleasant conversation over champagne (Lynnette R. Freeman,|
Bill McCallum, Michelle O'Neill, and John Catron)
(photo by Caroline Yang)
|Charlotte (Lynnette R Freeman) and Alex (Jay Owen Eisenberg)|
discuss art and race (photo by Caroline Yang)
Talvin Wilks directs this fantastic cast, with a few moments of humor and many moments of discomfort, which is a good thing for an audience to experience. In less than 90 minutes the playwright, director, and cast really get to the crux of the matter without blaming anyone, just shedding light on our unconscious biases. This play asks the difficult questions, without answering them. How do white people become true allies in the fight for racial equality and justice, without playing the "white savior?" How do we acknowledge the privilege that comes with whiteness and the ways we benefit from the racist foundation of our country while trying to dismantle it? How can we work together to bring about a more just world? I don't have the answers, but plays like this give me hope that one day we'll find them.
The regional premiere of The White Card continues at Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul through March 1.