Playing out Racism's History Show at Metropolis a Visual Aid to Lessons on Discrimination
Daday, Eileen O., Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Eileen O. Daday Daily Herald Correspondent
In a gritty scene from Mildred Taylor's book, "Let the Circle Be Unbroken," a black man - the father of a biracial teen - is forced to strip to his underwear by white teenagers.
It is the 1930s in the South, and his daughter had tried to pass herself off as white, which spurred the attack.
On Tuesday, sixth-graders watching the play, the sequel to Taylor's "Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry," unfold were visibly shaken, shouting out: "No, no" as the young white man threatened to lynch the older black man.
The climactic scene played out right in front of the students on the apron of the intimate stage at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights, and it made an impact on the students from Grove Junior High School in Elk Grove Village.
"It was pretty strong," said Collin Rogers, 12, of Elk Grove. "They were really discriminated against, but I don't see that happening around here."
Grove Junior High Assistant Principal Emily Woemmel, said she did not find the realism of the scene unsettling.
"I'm glad they didn't hold back," Woemmel said. "It's good for the kids to see, and realize that in some parts of the country, things haven't changed."
Sixth-grader Ambrielle Hubbard, 12, of Elk Grove Village shot up her hand immediately after the performance.
She was the last student to get in a question during a Q&A session with the cast from Apple Tree Theatre.
"Did you perform all of the book," she wanted to know, or, in other words, why did they leave so much out.
Cast members explained they could not include all of the characters and had to trim the plot into a one-hour version that would keep the attention of students.
Like other students in the audience, Hubbard said she identified with the lead character of Cassie, the central character whose family faces discrimination and bigotry in their small Mississippi town in the 1930s. …