The Colored Museum is ready to push boundries


Josh Andrews

Vera Keyes, Senior BA Theatre major, as Aunt Ethel.

Kiana Blaylock, Staff Writer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — With sketches involving everything from a celebrity slave ship to an afro-vs.-straightened  hair debate, the award-winning satire “The Colored Museum” will push boundaries and buttons during its Sept. 27-29 run at Jacksonville University.

The controversial-but-comical play by Tony Award-winner George C. Wolfe, told through 11 exhibits, explores African-Americansjourney of self-identification and comments on the impact of black history and African culture on America. Dark comedy and satire expose the audience to a different perspective into the identity crisis African-Americans face.

Although “The Colored Museum” dates to 1986, its more relevant than ever,said Deborah Jordan, associate professor of theater. I have always admired it for its biting wit and ability to take no prisoners. I am excited about our African-American students to get a play all of their own.

 Wolfe was aiming towards a pure, unadulterated metaphorin distilling the black experience to a point that it would resonate far beyond its publication.

 As a person of color, I was trained from very early on to see Leave it to Beaver, Gilligans Island or Hamlet and look beyond the specifics of it and find the human truths that have to do with me,he has said. Is the reverse possible? Can people who are not of color leap past the specifics of who these people are and get inside the dynamic of who they are as individuals?

 Guest designer,Johnny Pettegrew, considers this production one of the productions he enjoyed. One of the reasons being that this is a homecoming for Pettegrew. Pettegrew worked at Jacksonville University for ten years as the Technical Director and Professor of Design before leaving 25 years ago.

Pettegrew remembers the Swisher Theater before the renovation.

It was like a barn back here,said Pettegrew.

According to Pettegrew, there will be videos to accompany the on-stage portions of the production-different than anything he has done at Jacksonville University before.

With the productions, we made a silk purse out a sows ear. We were very limited on the kinds of productions. But I am glad to see the new theater and the new faces on the team.

 Professor Tony Steve, JU Artist-in-Residence in Percussion and Contemporary Music, will provide African drumming and jazz percussion.

 The music of African-Americans is the result of multiple cultures colliding and creating a syncretic milieu of music,Steve said. Rhythm & Blues and Jazz have morphed into the unique stylized sound of North America. Slave song call-and-responsewas the gateway to gospel, jazz and R&B. The music of a people that were not allowed to read or write by their owners has become the musical iconography of the United States.

Part exorcism, part party and wholly satirical, its sketches juxtapose facets of African-American cultural history and identity — politically correct or not.

“It’s a dark, humorous and familiar journey into the pursuit of equality and prosperity by black Americans,said costume designer Curtis J. Williams. It hauntingly highlights how alive and unchanged that pursuit remains to this day.