August Osage County

I know! I’ve been seeing a bunch of theater lately, and I’m totally broke because of it.

I had a pal recently who didn’t want to see this show, because “isn’t it about a bunch of screwed up white people?” Yeah, it totally is. And I get her point — theater that features all white casts feel very dated to me, very Donna Reed-1955, probably because whenever I do get to be on stage, it’s because there are a bunch of other colors on stage with me. But this play I thought was fabulous with great parts for women played by great women. The story covers a pretty nasty, pill-addicted matriarch who tries to shred her daughter to pieces so that they’ll be too weak to leave her — a wonderful trait in a character to cause dish-breaking, hair-raising scenes. There is something recognizeable about the way these people tear each other apart, but it’s more fun to watch from a bystander/audience seat than say….the back seat of a Chevrolet.

One thing though — there is a mentally stable Native American maid/cook/caretaker who has to listen to the other characters in every scene that she’s in and does really get to every explore her story. She’s just like a the pillar whom everyone else depends on, to which another friend responded (who is white), with disgust, being that he’s sick of stories about screwed white people who turn to the spiritually more advanced Native American or other non-white.

That IS a common theme, how the OTHER kind of teaches you the error of your ways, and the other can be ethnic, or older, or just British (Mr. Belevedere?). And even though the maid was a minor character, I think there were ways that she could have been enriched that would have been simple and not taken away from the general trajectory of the play.

I still remember watching “Hannah and Her Sisters” with a group of friends in college, and all of us being pretty absorbed in it, and the very last scene, a black woman comes out and serves food and she’s the only nonwhite person in the whole movie, which Okwui, a black pal, pointed out and said it ruined the movie for her–which completely altered my perception of casting. It’s something that had never occurred to me before.

So the point is…I don’t have a point. This just motivates me to write about a screwed-up Asian family who find solace in their white butler…and he’ll be like a really wise, spiritual butler.

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