Continuing our discussion about the musical The Color Purple (which is also about to become a movie musical starring Fantasia Barrino, Danielle Brooks, Colman Domingo, and Corey Hakwins), this week Ruthie recommends Joshua Harmon’s new Off-Broadway play Prayer for the French Republic.
The Color Purple—originally a novel by Alice Walker—was adapted into a musical and first opened on Broadway in 2005 and revived in 2015 and depicts the abusive relationship between Celie and Mister (among many other things). But is it as simple as “Mister is a bad guy?” Last week in “THE COLOR PURPLE and Generational Trauma,” we spoke about what it was like for actor Isaiah Johnson to play Mister—why he wanted to, how it was healing, and how it was challenging. Isaiah also pointed out that generational trauma is not unique to Black Americans and Prayer for the French Republic reminded me of that.
Prayer takes place in 2015-2016 Paris and 1945-1946 Paris, depicting multiple generations of French Jews in the same family. Rising anti-Semitism in Paris confronts the present-day Benhamou family, stoking fear and worry, and forcing them to wonder “When do you leave? When are the signs enough to tell you to leave? And where do you go? Where is safe?” Listen to this full episode for the connections between these two theatrical pieces, the communities they portray, and why you should run to see both.
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