“I would like you to present me directions,” Nya begs her teenage son Omari, who faces potential legal fees for attacking his trainer. “I’ll take a bullet for you… I’ll steal the sky for you.”
With emotive supply of highly effective traces, BLACKstage’s rendition of Dominique Morisseau’s play “Pipeline” shocked the gang on Saturday. Directed by Eryn Perkins ’25, it marked the group’s return to fostering Black inclusion by means of theater after a number of years of hiatus. And the manufacturing didn’t disappoint. Proficient appearing and thought-provoking designs dropped at life a transferring story of the school-to-prison pipelines that Black youths face in America at present, a subject particularly related throughout Black Historical past Month.
The storyline of Morisseau’s play itself is in need of novel, however it’s concrete and relatable nonetheless. The efficiency begins with single mom Nya (Lingarbel Brempong ’24) leaving Omari’s father Xavier a voice message, shortly letting the viewers know that Omari (Dylan Moore ’24) is in bother.
Nya works at a faculty in a Black neighborhood that’s plagued with stressed youngsters, a few of whom have violent tendencies. Wanting Omari to realize a greater training away from this surroundings, Xavier (Ammar Alinur ’23) pays for him to attend a personal college. There, Omari feels singled out by his trainer, who treats him as a spokesperson for the Black and single-parent experiences.
Every of the characters face points that relate to and lengthen past their racial identities, making them tangible to a various viewers. Omari feels that he doesn’t belong in his white-majority college and is angered by his father’s absence in his life. Nya desires to avoid wasting her son from dealing with authorized penalties for his third bodily assault however struggles to satisfy his emotional wants.
On high of those considerations lie romantic needs: as Nya longs for the return of her ex-husband, Omari navigates by means of a rocky relationship together with his equally pissed off girlfriend Jasmine (Aliya Lipsky ’26).
The actors clearly embodied these inside and exterior conflicts with stellar performances complemented by the intriguing costume design of Christina Benjamin ’24. Moore’s physique language — pacing across the room or unexpectedly shoving books into his backpack — highlighted Omari’s impulsive nature. The attribute was additional pushed house by his denim jacket and T-shirt, the latter which had “Revolution” written on it.
Most of all, I used to be impressed by Xavier’s outfits. From the primary time he walked into the room with wire glasses, a grey plaid blazer and matching gown pants, I understood that he was a white-collar employee who left a problematic neighborhood and wished his son to do the identical.
As a poetry fan, I used to be vastly intrigued by the play’s use of Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem “We Actual Cool” as a metaphor for Black identification all through. The ten-line poem is first utilized by Nya to show her college students the hazard of rejecting training and resorting to violence, medicine and intercourse. She faces the viewers when addressing her college students; successfully, the viewers turns into her pupils as she teaches them the systemic racism dealing with Black youth.
As Nya makes her remarks to the category, an ominous recording of the poem performs within the background. Behind her, Omari echoes the traces of the poem whereas standing on a shabby desk, as if on trial (set design by Mary-Tyler Mosley ’25; sound design by Peter Li ’25). This motif recurs all through the play, with Omari’s picture representing Nya’s inside concern of him realizing the prophecy within the final traces of the poem: “We / Die quickly.”
The manufacturing was certainly not flawless. I’d have appreciated a number of characters enunciating their traces extra clearly, and the crew transferring props in between scenes barely disrupted the viewers’s immersion within the efficiency.
As for the play itself, it by no means explicitly ties its title again to its theme of the school-to-prison pipeline. It additionally performs with the concept that social media exacerbates current systemic racism by enabling the unfold of movies that distort the reality (equivalent to a video of Omari hitting the trainer, when in actuality the altercation was solely a push). I’d have appreciated to see additional developments of this dialogue of the affect of social media past a number of mentions right here and there.
Nonetheless, when Omari fingers his mom an inventory of open-ended parenting directions (a few of that are contradictory, equivalent to “Know when to again off” and “Know when to maintain pushing”) on the finish of the play, I used to be left glad with the decision of the mother-son battle. Though the viewers didn’t get a transparent reply to what occurred to Omari ultimately, the hopeful decision was certain to heat the hearts of many.
Editor’s Notice: This text is a evaluate and contains subjective ideas, opinions and critiques.