Max Berry, Contributing Critic - New York City
“Truth and Reconciliation” features a series of short plays written and performed by women covering a whole range of topics from a bank in Georgia refusing to deposit a check for a woman and her wife, to hearing from the mother of Emmett Till. The plays all center around this theme of “reconciliation” between women and the damage that they cause to each other when they tear each other down. This could be comedic like the two sections of “The Other” written by Jasmine McLeish as desperate college student tries to reassure her college admissions councilor that the race on her application is correct in a wonderfully over the top fashion, or it could be serious like in “The Proposal” by Nandita Shenoy as a former student of a private school urges the new dean to step down because she failed to act when a teacher was sexually harassing students.
All of this reconciliation culminated in the final song “I’m Sorry.” The song was a ton of fun despite feeling a little abrupt. The use of dance as a transition between plays was a very entertaining way to move through each piece. I found myself curious about these moments and wanting even more dancing throughout.
A stand out among the plays was “Till Hell Freezes Over” by Tonya Pinkins. This play was a striking beginning, presenting not a single actor on stage, rather, telling the story through intense close ups of the character’s eyes projected in an oversized image on the back drop. Telling a story of the mother of Emmett Till meeting one of the women who stood by and allowed the lynching of her son to happen in the afterlife. Despite being limited to a voice and eyes, the actors conveyed incredible emotion. This style of play, and use of video as the sole source of storytelling is unique and I hope to see more of it in the theater.
I feel the plays that I responded to the most were the ones that, while their messages were pretty clear from the beginning, did not give me their entire perspective right in the first couple minutes. A few plays revealed what they were going to discuss and how they wanted me to think about that very early on and I found myself struggling to keep watching after that. I had all of the information already, why would I need to wait to hear it again? Plays like “Tierra de las Flores” by Glory Kadigan and “Law 136” by Carmen Rivera were great examples of not giving everything up in the first few minutes. These, along with the previously mentioned “Till Hell Freezes Over” had an idea they wanted you to grasp but let you live with the characters and work it out with them rather than give it all away in a single monologue.
Overall, I very much enjoyed “Truth and Reconciliation” and look forward to seeing future iterations.
“Truth and Reconciliation: Womyn Working it Out!” was presented and directed by Tonya Pinkins. It featured plays by Glory Kadigan, Tonya Pinkins, Carmen Rivera, Jasmine McLeish, Lucy Thurber, Nandita Shenoy, Kristine M. Reyes, and a song by Amanda Green and Shaina Taub.
It featured:Mary Teresa Archbold, June Ballinger, Siho Ellsmore, Antonia Marrero, Akiko Hiroshima, Tonya Pinkins, Lili Stiefel, and Lina Sarello.
It was presented at The Tank (312 W. 36th St. New York, NY 10018) October 3-6.
With choreography by Briana Reed
Scenic design by Rachel Alexis Zimmerman
And lighting and sound design by Christian Robertson.