Sunday, December 1, 2013

Race, a play

David Mamet, play writer, is a master at unsettling his audience, and in his play Race, he introduces several contentious characters who expound deep but very controversial issues, satirizing society with their pointed ideas on race and gender but how those ideas change or deepen into extreme conflict as tensions become abrasively verbalized when taking a crime to trial.

The basic plot is two lawyers, one white and one black and both in their mid-40s, are debating accepting a case in which another man, a wealthy white in his mid-40s, is accused of raping a young black woman. The two lawyers start out arguing the point in defending a man who is almost assuredly guilty, so they wonder how they can win, because the arrogant wealthy accused just as much as said he had committed the crime. The problem was how to win the case as they had a good record of winning, and that was a heavy marketing strategy for them. Besides, they get more kickbacks when they win. But how to win when the accused is not really the one on trial, but the issue of race itself will be on trial.

The two lawyers then set about with a plan to enact in the courtroom: Susan, their young assistant lawyer newly hired, in her 20s and also black, was to wear a red sequined dress like the young woman who says she was raped. Susan was to be thrown on the floor, the sequins would of course scatter, and then the jury would clearly visual what the wealthy white man did to cause the sequins to be thrown all over the room where the crime was to have been done. Of course the two lawyers would be defending him but their reputation would remain intact when they lost as race was on trial more than the wealthy man. Politics. Sexual politics.

Susan, the young black lawyer, wasn't going for it. She did some secret sleuthing on her own to expose the white man, as, since race is on trial and she was practically being volunteered to play an active role in the reenactive of rape, and her body like many black women in history was to be a tool, she found condemning evidence and quietly tipped off authorities to the incriminating evidence. Her seniors in the office, the other two lawyers, were livid and in anger raged against each other about why she, a black had been hired, and other racial slurs thrown around.

Throughout the play, racial slurs were made. The accused white man didn't even realize that many of the statements he made on postcards were racially condemning as he regarded them as just good fun and laughs with his white cronies. The black lawyer had ordered a background check on Susan before she was hired as he said young black female lawyers (himself being black also so he would know) might have issues. The white lawyer was the one who wanted Susan to wear the red sequined dress in the courtroom and have a rape scene reenactment. Susan didn't say much, but her presence and her subtle workings behind the scene brought race issues to the surface that both the older white and black lawyers did not want in the trial.

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