The West Virginia University School of Theatre and Dance will present critically acclaimed Broadway hit “Race” from Sept. 23 – Oct. 2 pushing audiences to reexamine their thoughts on American culture, racial biases, societal norms and truth and justice.
Directed by Jerry McGonigle, professor of acting and directing, “Race” chronicles lawyers Jack Lawson and Henry Brown as they defend Charles Strickland, a high-profile businessman caught up in a racially-charged media frenzy surrounding criminal acts against his mistress. When the lawyers’ paralegal, Susan, enters the play, more complication arises as she lets her own personal idea of truth interfere with justice.
“This is a challenging role because of the politically, racially and culturally charged undertones,” said Andra Ward Jr., a master’s of acting student who plays Brown. “I find it difficult to stay true to the story and the words written without adding my own personal biases to my character.”
Mamet is notorious for writing characters that are abrasive and hard to swallow for cast members and audiences alike.
“This show will push the audience, in the same way it pushed me, to contemplate the things that we say and the way we treat others,” said Rick Mugrage, a master’s of acting student who plays Lawson. “Mamet created Lawson, who comes across like he can say whatever he wants, and that hides the fact of how truly racist he is. Those kinds of characters make us realize the consequences of our words, and it exposes the racism within all of us that we ultimately have to face before we can change.”
Joining Ward Jr. and Mugrage in starring roles are master’s of acting students Joseph Bussey and Emani Berry. School of Theatre and Dance faculty Alan McEwen, Mary McClung and Bob Klingelhoefer will assist with production as lighting, costume and set designers, respectively.
“Race” will premiere at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23-24, 2 p.m. Sept. 25, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27-30 and 2 p.m. Oct. 2 in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre at the WVUCreative Arts Center.
Performances on Sept. 29 and Oct. 2 will feature post-show discussions with the director, cast and a panel of representatives from the College of Law, Department of English, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, School of Social Work, and the Black Graduate Student Association. Audiences are encouraged to participate in the open dialogue session about race relations, cultural bias and the subsequent affects that they have on justice, truth and alleged criminal acts.
CONTACT: Bernadette Dombrowski, College of Creative Arts
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