On May 10th, the “Act Like You Care” youth theater ensemble came to Crown Heights for an interactive production of their show, “A Seat at the Table.” The show challenged the audience to determine not only what was real and fake, but what was right and wrong about the actions that took place over the course of the night.
The play centered on the idea that the audience was attending a fully catered event with an on-site catering company. As the “catering staff” escorted guests from the street into the event space, a series of uncomfortable scenarios took place such as guests being offered different food items based on their perceived ethnic background and caterers arguing with one another over such topics as race, gender, sexuality, and relationship conflict. As the evening’s host came out to mediate conflict and apologize to the audience time after time, it became clear to the audience that this in fact, was the show! The interactions among the “catering staff” were in fact staged – written by the theater ensemble to make a statement about the issues of assumptions, bigotry and “isms” that hide in all of us.
The audience for the show included more than 30 people, and was comprised of a diverse range of Crown Heights locals as well as visitors new to the neighborhood. The audience engaged in dialogue about the questions that the show brought up for them concerning what it means to express your full identity and co-exist with others who may have different beliefs. One young woman expressed that diversity is a strength in communities, with different people providing different skills and knowledge, and that while everyone may not agree with each other, it is important to respect our differences and focus on strengthening ourselves rather than tearing down others. Other folks in the room agreed, noting the value of difference and also the fact that people from different backgrounds may still have a lot in common when they take the time to get to know one another.
As the night came to a close, audience members continued the conversation, spilling out onto the street in new friendships and new ideas.
Thank you to Daniel Carlton, the Act Like You Care theater ensemble, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and Trinity Wall Street Church for making this event possible. For more information about the show and the Act Like You Care program, email Carlton.Daniel@gmail.com or catch their show at The Brooklyn Commons on Tuesday May 17 at 7:30 PM.