Citizen: An American Lyric

Citizen: An American Lyric with (Heather Bunch, Hope Cervantes, Michael Hanna, Theo Langason, Dana Thompson and Joe Nathan Thomas. Photo by Tony Nelson

by CHRISTINE SARKES

Frank Theatre’s Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine at the Intermediate Arts center packs a huge emotional punch. Focusing on the complex inner and outer lives of its characters, the play dissects daily occurrences of racist micro-aggressions that are designed to denigrate and render invisible minority populations. These micro-aggressions are explored powerfully and lyrically through movement, poetry, video displays and conversations between actors. This is the final weekend and I urge you to buy your tickets soon. This is as important an exploration of race in America as I’ve seen since Disgraced at the Guthrie.

Citizen is a six-person ensemble piece (Heather Bunch, Hope Cervantes, Michael Hanna, Theo Langason, Dana Thompson and Joe Nathan Thomas) that “floats between dream and reality, narration and performance, and challenges its audience’s perceptions.” Examples such as Serena Williams’ struggles to battle racism on the tennis courts and the many black men and women lost to police brutality, drive home the constant struggle blacks face to battle fear, degradation and humiliation while simultaneously expressing a clear and forceful voice in defense of human dignity and freedom. The stop-and-frisk segment is terrifying in its reminder of Philando Castile and all lost to police brutality and mistaken identity: “You are not the guy and still you fit the description because there is only one guy who is always the guy fitting the description.” The ensemble acting is superb and stage movement very effective in conveying the interconnectedness of the characters.

Frank Theatre is a professional theatre company committed to “producing unique work which stretches the skills of the artists who create the work while simultaneously challenging the everyday perceptions of the audience through the exploration of ideas and issues of social, political and/or cultural concern.” The Intermediate Arts venue is equally committed to socially relevant programming and its cool space is worth a visit.

Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine, in a stage adaptation by Stephen Sachs. Directed by Frank Artistic Director Wendy Knox, with projections by Bill Cottman, lighting by Mike Wangen, Sound by Michael Croswell, Costumes by Kathy Kohl with stage management by Jared Ziegler. At Intermediate Arts, 2822 S. Lyndale, March 10-April 2, 2017. Performances are Thurs, Fri and Sat at 8:00, Sun at 2:00. Tickets are $25 General, $22 Students and Seniors with ID. More information at http://www.franktheatre.org or call (612) 724 3760.

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