Perisphere Theater opens a powerful and poetic ‘Blue Door’

Perisphere Theater opens a powerful and poetic ‘Blue Door’

The title of Tanya Barfield’s enjoy Blue Doorway derives from “a belief in Gullah tradition that if you paint your doorway blue, you retain absent the evil spirits,” she has mentioned. Individuals ghostlike spirits, as she understands them, had been “the white slave masters or KKK.” It is a powerfully poetic picture for a powerfully poetic engage in, now working in a wonderfully staged and stunningly evocative generation directed by Henery Wyand for Perisphere Theater.

At the heart of Blue Door is a man named Lewis (a prepossessingly expressive DeJeanette Horne) who lives driving a shut door of a further sort, one he utilizes to continue to keep absent from his consciousness the historic point of currently being Black — the generational heritage of slavery and the psychic injuries of racism. He is fiftyish, a high achiever, a productive professor, a philosopher of mathematics, and he is married to a white girl. She, sensitive to his ambivalence about being Black, has urged him to just take section in the 1995 Million Male March in DC, but as the participate in commences she has left him because he will not — also since he shirks his share of housework. Bereft and beside himself, Lewis is now in his business making an attempt fitfully to snooze but beset by insomnia and apparitions of his ancestors.

Jaucqir LaFond (who appears as Simon, Rex, and Jesse) and DeJeanette Horne (as Lewis) in ‘Blue Doorway.’ Picture by DJ Corey Photography.

In his waking dream, a forged of deceased characters likely back to the 1850s seem — which include his great-grandfather Simon, who was born into slavery his grandfather Jesse, who was freed then lynched his father Charley, who drank and beat him and his youthful, a lot more militant brother Rex.

All of these spectral figures and extra are portrayed with transfixing grace and quicksilver versatility by Jaucqir LaFond, a graduating senior performing main at Howard College whose get the job done to start with impressed me in a Young Playwrights’ Theater virtual output final March.

In several narratives and portrayals, from charming to alarming, LaFond encircles Lewis with the previous his thoughts wants not to know. When we learn, for instance, how Simon sweetly courted Katie, who was owned by the grasp of a neighboring plantation, LaFond’s Simon arrives alive with animated pleasure. LaFond’s understated recounting of Jesse’s lynching would make the mental photograph all the additional horrific. And throughout Blue Doorway are a capella tracks by Barfield, some in English, some in Yoruba, which in LaFond’s charming voice grow to be haunting pleasures to the ear.

Jaucqir LaFond in ‘Blue Doorway.’ Shots by DJ Corey Images.

Vivid incidents of indignity abound in Blue Door in both Lewis’s lifetime in the present and his ancestors’ life in the previous. Amongst them are a familiar scene when Charley in a tux at an all-white specialist social collecting is mistaken for a waiter, a historically resonant episode of early voter suppression, and a chilling vignette when 7-calendar year-outdated Simon is molested by a 15-calendar year-outdated white male tutor.

Barfield’s poetry in Blue Doorway is the type that sends shivers it is so emotionally precise and profound. Listed here for occasion is a passage from the scorching scene in which Rex excoriates Lewis for his lodging to “the white gaze” (normally looking at himself by means of the eyes of white individuals) and his remaining “afraid to be Black”:

LEWIS: Your mentality, illiterate target mentality, you simply call becoming black. You want me to talk the converse, wander the stroll, cling with the homies, gangsta rap my way to the American dream by bitch-slapping our people today outta intellectual parity.

REX: Preserve it actual, Lewy-Sambo. [to the audience:] He a white devil in black skin, my bro. [back to Lewis:] Go on, brother, defame my image…. Explain to Whitey ’bout your drunk of a daddy, how you reinvented by yourself in yo’ individual picture, pulled yourself up from your bootstraps, you American dreamer. Explain to ’em all ’bout immediately after Malcolm and Martin shot, when I (your blacker bro), spiraled down outta The Movement. Finished up homeless and on crack. Why do not you convey to Whitey how both equally our mama’s boys (you the great son and me the lousy) go through the identical sickness, self-loathing, the silent affliction, a plague of the skin. Equally our daddy’s sons go through the phantom disease referred to as self-detest.

Henery Wyand not only directs with an assured eyesight but also created the evocative set— a wooden-chip-coated area in which are buried props and the earlier — the costumes, and scene-location sound. The lights by Adam Mendelson flows in subtle sync with the show’s feelings. And the costumes — stylish silk pajamas for Lewis roughspun henley shirt and suspenders for his unwelcome people — are particularly apt.

DeJeanette Horne and Jaucqir LaFond painting a doorway blue in ‘Blue Doorway.’ Photo by DJ Corey Images.

The eloquence of this high-quality enjoy is over and above indicating. Like the greatest of dramas, it opens a doorway to understanding. And the splendor of its staging is indelible.

Managing Time: Just one hour 35 minutes with no intermission.

Blue Doorway plays to March 12, 2022, presented by Perisphere Theater performing at the Silver Spring Black Box Theatre, 8641 Colesville Rd, Silver Spring, MD. Tickets ($34 typical rate, $28 senior, $24 scholar) are available online.

The Blue Door method is on the net here.

COVID Protection: Proof of vaccination against COVID-19, such as a booster, is needed to show up at the perform. Requests for exemptions should be made at minimum 48 hrs in advance of a performance. Patrons are essential to use masks that present a whole seal over the two mouth and nose at all times unless of course ingesting water. For extra information about COVID protocols see measures/

‘To convey to a Black tale by a Black artist’: Henery Wyand on directing ‘Blue Door’
(job interview by John Stoltenberg)

DeJeanette Horne: Lewis
Jaucqir LaFond: Simon/Rex/Jesse

Resourceful Workforce
Tanya Barfield: Playwright
Henery Wyand: Director/Sound Style and design/Established Design/Costume Structure
Sarah McCarthy: Phase Manager
Kevin O’Connell: Producer, Dramaturg, Props Designer
Adam Mendelson: Lights Designer
Renata Taylor-Smith: Assistant Lighting Designer
Steven Leshin: Scenic Aid