'Beloved Community' review missed point

November 10, 2003

Dear Editor:

I'm glad I was in the audience of DramaCentre's "The Beloved Community" on Wednesday night. Otherwise, based on her review, I might not have believed Jennifer Brummett and I saw the same production.

"The Beloved Community" is an honest, unflinching, and thought-provoking piece of writing, and DramaCentre's production brought it to life. It distresses me that because Ms. Brummett never "gathered exactly what this play wanted to tell me," she believes it is not a good production. The point is, in fact, exactly that. The play asks each of us to examine our own beliefs, values, and actions, with the hope we will continue - or at least begin - conversations about the issues of peace, justice, fairness, love, and hope. The vehicle to do so is provided through the play's use of the Civil Rights Movement and activism of the 1960s. It is an uncommon thing, and something I found refreshing, that the playwright doesn't offer us a tidy solution or lead us to a particular point of view.


Although Ms. Brummett says she "prefers a sharper focus or a more concise point," it is nearly impossible to address any of these tough issues in such a narrow way and still ask audiences to look inwardly.

I'm sorry that Ms. Brummett didn't stay after the production for the "Talkback" with playwright Herman Ferrell. Audience members shared experiences with the playwright, director Tony Haigh, and the actors. It was obvious people were talking about and changed by the evening's experience, and that most would continue to think and talk about - not the play - but their personal experiences.

I can think of no higher compliment to any artist than to have been the catalyst for these types of transforming conversations. Kudos to Herman Ferrell, Tony Haigh, and the rest of DramaCentre.

Ms. Brummett says "at its most basic level, 'The Beloved Community' is about three 1960s Civil Rights Movement activists returning to a college campus for a symposium about that time in their lives." I disagree. I believe that at its most basic level, "The Beloved Community" is about how, in all circumstances and situations, we choose to act and react either from love or fear.

Freear Williams

Gravel Switch

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