I’m George Walker
The IU Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance is embracing our stay-at-home pandemic with a season of zoomed plays. It started on October 16 and 17 with the award winning Black Super Hero Magic Mama. The play is by Inda Craig-Galvan, with a cast of IU theatre students and guests directed by returning IU MFA David Kote.
I’m used to dressing for the season and driving over to the IU Theatre for an evening, surrounded by an audience of like-minded theatre goers. Staying at home, Saturday night with the show beginning at 7:30, I was more or less ready for Black Super Hero Magic Mama.
Sabrina Jackson, Tana Freeman can’t cope with the death of her teen aged son Tremarion, Richard David. He was shot by a white cop, Officer Dave, Christopher Plonka. Rather than taking the lead in the Black Lives Matter movement, Sabrina retreats, living out a comic book superhero fantasy of Maasai Angel. It’s Tremarion’s story illustrated by his artistic friend, Flat Joe, Joseph Hughes. The superhero fantasy is played out over a sketch of black and white. Craig-Galvan’s play asks, will Sabrina stay in this dream world or return to colorful reality and mourn her loss?
My computer screen here at home is about twelve inches wide and nine inches high. Director David Kote with stage manager Alex Woosley and scenic and sound designer Valeriya Nedviga frequently arranged my screen with left, right and lower rectangular windows. Sometimes there was only one and sometimes as many as five. Carolynn Stouder called out the scene changes.
Craig-Galvan’s play gets off to a fast start. After establishing Sabrina, Tremarion and Flat Joe in the first scene, Tremarion is shot in the second. Fortunately there’s a scene four months earlier with Flat Joe, and they’re also together three weeks before the shooting. In that session, Tremarion champions super-heroes that are only super because of their intelligence and tenacity. Flat Joe sites Superman and when Tremarion’s objects, he says that Superman is only super because he’s on earth. On his home planet, he’d be just an ordinary Joe.
I’m familiar with watching movies, dramas, plays ..even operas…on my computer. Zooming, with rectangles gives the director a lot more options. Characters, like Sabrina’s sister Lena, Adrianna Embry can be a bit more than insistent, hectoring even. And in the fantasy, Lena can be a narrator.
Tremarion’s Black History Coach Brackett, Devin Cook can blame himself for Tremarion’s death and in the fantasy appear as Deep Thinker. Officer Dave, Christopher Plonka who mistook the winner’s trophy for a weapon and shot Tremarion, can blame himself and in the fantasy world battle Maasai Angel as Death Tap.
The television news folk in the present, Tom Blackman, Davin McDuffy and Connie Wright, Meloddy Gao reappear in fantasy land as Human Hyena…with a chilling laugh… and Lady Vulture.
It’s only after the shooting of Tremarion that Sabrina goes into a zombie state. I’m not sure how Sabrina becomes Maasai Angel with a frequently repeated history of an African tribe, but she does and she’s on a mission to reach Deep Thinker. It’s quite an adventure with some colorful moments from conservative TV talk show hosts, a duel with Death Tap, and an escape from the classic comic maiden in distress, tied to the rail-road tracks. It’s not a spoiler to tell you that she does return to the colorful world.
Black Super Hero Magic Mama is the opener for “Amplified.” Coming up on October 23rd and 24th at 7:30 will be the zooming of R. Eric Thomas’s Time is on Our Side.
Amplified at IU Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance is dedicated to plays written by Black writers. It seeks to magnify those voices, their experiences, and their stories.
At home in front of my zoomed in computer, I’m George Walker