Dael Orlandersmith opened her solo performance with the story of a character named Mike and his abusive family on Friday night.
The story first was told from Mike’s point of view.
Orlandersmith performed her piece, “Black n Blue Boys/Broken Men” as a part of the Cultural Conversations festival at the Downtown Theatre Center.
In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case, some audience members found it vital for a show like this to be performed.
“I do find this to be very important [to raise awareness],” Tyia Thompson said.
Thompson came to see Orlandersmith’s performance because she thought the show would be interesting and was “curious to see what it was all about,” she (junior-psychology) said.
The performance opened with Susan Russell, artistic director of the festival, speaking.
Russell said the show could “help make a cultural change.”
“It helps us understand that what we are grappling with is not just us,” she said.
She said that the current generation has the power to change the culture of sexual abuse.
“This is not a pipe dream, this is something that can happen,” Russell said. “What you will see is a great artist but what you will hear is real people.”
Orlandersmith’s performance was a mix of a few different characters telling tales of abuse. Beginning with Mike, Orlandersmith gave insight into his broken family home life.
“You got to keep on, keeping on,” she said as she portrayed Mike.
Her next character was another boy named Flaco. This boy had been molested by his mother, who suffered from a mental illness.
“I used to believe in family, man,” Flaco said as he began to tell his story.
The show progressed telling more stories of different characters, all with different accents and mannerisms.
Orlandersmith spent the entire performance either sitting on the stage, a chair or standing.
After her performance, Orlandersmith invited the members sitting in the front row to sit on the stage and join her in answering questions. Among them were several experts and local activists.
The audience was encouraged to ask questions and participate in the discussion.
Junior Kathleen Warner said she thought the performance was good.
“Her performance was phenomenal because it transcended genders,” Warner (junior-theater and advertising) said. “I wasn’t watching a female performer, I was watching the male characters she was portraying.”
Warner said Orlandersmith was able to act out each of the characters in a believable fashion.
“I could see the [character] switch in her eyes,” she said.