Drawing tense parallels between Black Lives Matter and the Civil Rights Movement, Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman asks how much change, if any, has occurred? Dutchman challenges the progress of racial equality in the last 50 years, revealing contemporary race relations.
Following Lula, a white woman, and her partner Clay, a black man, Dutchman explores the intersectionality between race, class and gender. This explosive narrative tackles white privilege, masculinity, power and sexuality as the audience follows the relationship between Lula, played by Cheska Hill-Wood and Clay, performed by American Black Film Festival nominee James Barnes.
This Black History Month, this revival celebrates Baraka’s civil rights activism and his confrontation of race and class in modern society. Baraka’s activism and pioneering African-American poetry altered the course of American literature and shone a light on the lives and artistic culture of African Americans in the 20th century. First performed in New York in 1964, this vital play is as relevant in today’s divided UK as the British government makes increasingly xenophobic and polarising decisions, deepening racial divides.
Director Kaitlin Argeaux commented: “I used to say “I don’t see race”, I don’t see “colour”, as I believed the colour of one’s skin shouldn’t matter. But this was my white privilege at work. To “not see colour” is a privilege afforded mainly to Caucasians. Baraka’s rage in the text is palpable, and it was written in 1964. 55 years later, and what has changed, really?”
Outer Gaea Company co-founder James Scotland added: “Dutchman celebrates the individuality of black men, which is often ignored or moulded into something more palatable – by black & white communities alike. I’ve always felt the true casualty of so many social issues, is the innocence of young people, which is no longer allowed to flourish.”
Outer Gaea Company and Théâtre Libre’s Dutchman will run at Tristan Bates Theatre, Tuesday 8 – Saturday 26 October 2019.