We sat second row, dead center, up close and very personal. As the rest of the audience (diverse) began to trickle in, I could feel the excitement building to see Keith Hamilton Cobb, all 6 foot 4 inches ("on a good day," as he mentioned) of a black man take center stage ready to spill some knowledge.
Throughout the play, Cobb engaged the audience as he belted out his range of emotions from anger to frustration to incredulous to WTF. We hung on to each word as he switched between quoting lines from Shakespeare's Othello to modern day slang to show how white America stereotypes him as a black man. There were many poignant moments where his message regarding stereotyping hit home for me as a black professional woman in corporate America. The frustration he felt in his industry and the need to subscribe to white America's way of thinking how he should act really resonated with me.
I had to laugh out loud at times when he mentioned that directors would ask him whether he's ever played basketball because of his height. When in fact, he stated that he sucked at it. This is a classic case of preconceived notions because white America doesn't take the time to know him or what he could bring to the character he's playing. Same holds true for me in corporate America as they would rather have me conform to their way of thinking and not be my authentic self. Therein lies the struggle.
At the end of the show, Cobb received a well-deserved standing ovation from the audience. We stuck around for the post show discussion facilitated by Thembi Duncan. I loved that she started the dialogue by asking the audience to throw out some words that came to mind as we watched Cobb's performance. Some of those words were anger, black lives matter, frustration, etc. Once the audience was warmed up, the dialogue scratched the surface about race. But given more time, I'm sure it would have been a very rich and interesting dialogue.
Overall, this is a must see play. I've already had some friends of mine purchase tickets to go see it and I can't wait to hear their reactions.
Great job, Mr. Cobb! American Moor is so much more and then some! Two thumbs way up!
American Moor is a 78 minute solo play written and performed by Keith Hamilton Cobb, examining the experience and perspective of black men in America through the metaphor of William Shakespeare's character, Othello.
Check out this YouTube video and some photos from the play.