"What to Send Up When it Goes Down" is a community ritual created in response to the deaths of Black people as a result of racialized violence. More…
As lines between characters and actors, observers and observed blur, a dizzying series of vignettes build to a climactic moment where performance and reality collide, highlighting the absurdity of anti-blackness in our society. Through facilitation and dialogue we must decide how to cope, resist, and move forward.
"If 'What to Send Up' is a receptacle for the rage that is part and parcel of life for many African-Americans, a piece that encourages its audience to respond with cathartic yells and tears, it is also shaped by a rarefied theatrical intelligence...Harris has a gift for pushing the familiar to surreally logical extremes...If you’re a lover of theater, looking for signs of fresh and original and in-the-moment life on the American stage, you need to see 'What to Send Up.'" Full Review
"This is theater that sets out to do something...A rapidly paced, often eviscerating series of scenes that almost overlap as one takes over from the next, returning again, sometimes as a clear continuation, sometimes as repetition with difference...It carries that slightly unfinished quality common to many devised performances...The more conventionally theatrical central scenes display moments of superb writing and are performed with ensemble-driven polish by the cast." Full Review
"We pass a talking rock around a participation circle; we share a primal shout. For some, this will be nourishing, even if the therapy dynamic is an awkward fit with its theatrical surrounding. You don’t usually pay for church...The members of the ensemble, thrumming with electricity, perform quick burlesque exchanges or drop suddenly into a percussive communal dance. The comedy is broad, but it works because director Whitney White keeps it fierce and fast." Full Review
"The writing itself is richly musical; the stark poetry and driving rhythms Harris mines in language, enhanced by repetition, lend power to 'What to Send On' from the beginning...Most of the characters are recognizably modern and less specific in design, functioning more to represent the dilemmas faced by today’s African-Americans...As the text points out, 'What to Send Up’ is also, and ultimately, celebratory—and cathartic." Full Review
See it if You want to have a moment of collective healing, if you want the chance to be in a room full of Black people celebrating themselves.
Don't see it if You're uninterested in Black people and I really mean that.
See it if you are genuinely interested in engaging with ritual, confronting the nature of oppression, and making yourself small when necessary
Don't see it if you enjoy escapist entertainment
See it if You appreciate ritual, holding space for the black community, you are comfortbale with an interactive experience
Don't see it if You are only interested in narrative, fourth-wall drama
See it if you need to process today's racial climate; to understand safe spaces; to be a non-black ally; to experience compelling performances.
Don't see it if you want pure escapism; you really hate audience participation; you don't want something "intense."
See it if ..to participate in a moving group-circle experience to honor and remember those killed in racial shootings in the U.S. A call to help
Don't see it if you don't like participatory theater
See it if If you want to participate in the show, chant,write, scream etc. Some good acting in it. If you want a much different kind of piece.
Don't see it if Stories tell sometimes half truths at best. If your white, you feel uncomfortable and are made to be. If you dont like over the top rage.
See it if you like relevant, meaningful, thought-provoking theater that sticks with you long after the "curtain goes down."
Don't see it if you don't like to be challenged by what you see.
See it if you want to take part in a commemoration of black people killed because they were black, & witness a community expressing its rage & sorrow.
Don't see it if you do not want to participate: the piece begins with a commemoration ritual to which performers & audience alike contribute.
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