Extra! Extra! Tickets to See Provocative New Play, NEIGHBORS, at Matrix Theatre

Neighbors_2smI used to be a volunteer teacher for underprivileged youth in a lower-class neighborhood in Boston—easily one of the most segregated cities in America. Most of the students I taught were African-American, and I was a Caucasian college student. But since race politics were not my subject—play-writing was—I gladly and professionally ignored the racial and socio-economic distinction between myself and them (note the tactful wording of my first sentence). Until one day, one of my students asked if I got paid to teach them. I answered, no, which was the truth. But then she followed up: “Then why do you do it? Because we’re black?”

It was a simple question, but it took me by surprise. Of course the answer was no, I did not choose to teach them because they were black, I did it because I wanted to teach creative-writing to kids, and they just so happened to be black. Right?

The question lurked in my mind, and I found myself thinking about it years later when Obama was running for President, and certain people would ask, “Why are you voting for him? Because he’s black?”

Both questions are not necessarily meant to be answered; they are meant to break down the polite barrier of sameness I initiated when I was a volunteer teacher, and which our society has deemed appropriate. But what if you did go about examining such a question? What if racial identity does play a part in teaching under-priveled children? What if it does play a part in how we choose our President?

This is what here-and-staying playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins attempts to exlpore in the West Coast premiere of his play Neighbors: A Play With Cartoons which opened at The Matrix theatre company (the same company that staged the original reading of the play) on August 28th and runs until October 24th. Directed by Nataki Garrett, the story revolves around Richard Patterson, a middle-class African-American of academia, “post-racial” in his general demeanor and self-identification. But when a family of tactless, immodest, and rude actors—who just so happen to be black—moves in next door, Richard’s entire being is called into question. Is it because they are impolite? Or because they are black?

To see these issues acted out live and free in “a grandly theatrical, highly subversive, and immensely intelligent” manner, all you have to do is supply your first and last name into the form below, along with your e-mail address, and you will be automatically entered into the running to receive two tickets to the September 2nd, 7:30 PM production of Neighbors: A Play with Cartoons at the Matrix Theatre on Melrose. As always with our ticket giveaways, everybody who enters is also eligible to receive tickets to our next three offers. So don’t fret if you don’t win; there’s always next time, and there’s always www.plays411.com/neighbors, as well as 323.960.7774, where you can simply buy your tickets the old-fashioned way.

- By Joshua Morrison

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