A racist drawing on a college dormitory door sparks a fire that leads to a school-wide conversation.
This year’s spring play, “Baltimore,” ran from April 6 to April 9. The play, written by Kirsten Greenidge and directed by drama teacher Summer L. Williams, included a cast of nine actors. Seniors Alex Erving, Annie Chang, Camille Whyte, Sofi Morera, Brianna Rutty and Kerimal Suriel Guerrero and sophomores Rachel Stephens, Joseph Clark and Jacob Cohen acted in the play. Erving portrayed a newly appointed dean, while the other actors portrayed college students.
“Baltimore” showed that dialogue, education and conversations on racial issues need to occur and that people should start seeing each other as individuals rather than stereotypes.
The show was structured around the characters’ conversations about race with each other, their different opinions on the racial climate of their school and the stereotypes against them. The show included a white board in the center of the stage that represented Alyssa’s door. After every individual conversation, the drawing on the board changed, breaking up each of the scenes.
Each character had a unique backstory, and throughout the show, the characters express how they felt about those stereotypes through monologues. For example, the character Rachel, played by Morera, describes her experience as a Latina who resisted the stereotypes of her ethnicity, while the character Grace played by Chang speaks of the pressures in her culture to look more White and be seen as more than just an Asian-American.
The plot of the play centers around a racist caricature on the dorm room door of Alyssa, a student of color played by Suriel Guerrero, that was drawn by Fiona, a White freshman played by Whyte. The way the actors depicted the tensions caused by the drawing and their multifaceted reactions to it was extremely impressive.
The show had an very diverse cast, covering many experiences and attitudes on race students might relate to here at the high school.
Best friends Shelby, played by Stephens, and Grace struggle to reconcile their differing experiences with their friendship and belief in a “post-racial” world. Bryant, played by Clark, feels torn between liking his new girlfriend Fiona and disagreeing with her beliefs. Carson, played by Cohen, wonders why his roommates think his “color-blindness” is a problem.
All the actors in “Baltimore” gave nuanced and stunning performances. When Alyssa finally appears in the play near the halfway point, her reaction to the drawing on her dorm room brought tears to her and the audience’s eyes, drawing them even further into the play emotionally.
However, not all of the show was completely serious. Carson, Bryant and Rachel’s jokes kept the audience laughing.
The play had a very serious tone, but gave the crowd moments to laugh and relate with the characters. This allowed the audience to both enjoy the show as art and understand the many layers of a difficult and very relevant topic.
After the show there was a question and answer session held with all of the actors. It provided an opportunity for the audience to share their opinions and ask questions to aid in the school’s conversations regarding race.