What do you call a play that takes the commentary of the movie and series “Dear White People,” the parody of “Bamboozled,” the movement of African American Greek fraternities and sororities rooted African step, the soulful sound of Negro spirituals, and the element of restorative justice practices? It is the dynamic play titled, “What to Send Up, When it Goes Down.” On November 21st, Ms. G, the NIA Youth and Community Clinician, took 9 youth to see the powerful, healing, and impactful play. While a show combining so many complex themes might seem overwhelming at first guess, the young people were captivated by it and not only enjoyed the show, but went on to recommend it to their peers and discuss it throughout the train ride back to Brooklyn!
What to Send Up was interactive at points and created a safe space for the Black audience members to react, respond and observe the actors in whatever way they felt moved to. The youth, at certain parts, teared, laughed and nodded emphatically as moments of the play resonated with them. Audience members seemed to connect without needing to speak to one another as our lived experiences were the thread that knitted us together. Once the play ended, the youth also had a chance to meet the actors and producers behind the show.
Reluctant to leave the warmth of the space to enter the cold winter air, the youth and Ms. G gradually walked out the space, speaking to one another about what resonated with them. With each step, the conversation transitioned to the happenings of the youths’ own lives, while other members felt inspired by the show and began to sing Hamilton while walking the streets of the theater district. It was a lovely and powerful night the attendees of the show will remember for some time.