Image

2:38 AM / Wednesday October 5, 2022

24 Dec 2016

Theatre review: “Black Kid Joy” at The Arts Bank

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
December 24, 2016 Category: Entertainment Posted by:

By Kharisma McIlwaine

The expression “Those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it.” is a familiar one. This piece of imparted wisdom is one of many themes that ran throughout the musical production, ‘Black Kid Joy’. Philadelphia native, John W. Graves III commemorated his 30th birthday and the 10th anniversary of his non profit production company John Graves Productions, with ‘Black Kid Joy’ as his 10th stage production. The multi-faceted writer, producer, composer, choreographer and director packed the theater of The Arts Bank at Broad and South on Saturday, December 17th and Sunday, December 18th for two out of three sold out shows.

The opening scene of ‘Black Kid Joy’ begins with a child named Chris (played by Kai A. Thompson), who is gunned down as a result of senseless gun violence in front of his parents. After his death, Chris arrives at a place called “Melanin” where the beauty and uniqueness of blackness is celebrated in the form of a never ending party. He travels through time struggling to accept his fate, longing for his parents, all while attempting to absorb the new knowledge of his true identity as a young Black man. Various figures throughout history including Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mrs. Mamie Till the (mother of Emmett Till) remind him of his roots with the mantra “you are Black, you are brown, you are yellow, you are gold.”

Throughout ‘Black Kid Joy’, the audience is faced with some harsh truths; our men and women are dying at an alarming rate. Images of Black men covered with bullet wounds, blood stained shirts, and nooses sing words of warning against the violence plaguing our communities as a ineffective solution to an identity crisis. A negative self image manifests in a number of ways.  Taking a life has less value when the person killed is viewed as worthless by most. The symbolism of the violence once used to enslave Black people vs the violence currently killing so many brothers and sisters was jarring and powerful.

The large ensemble cast poured out a number of songs, throughout the first and second acts. The gospel elements, and soulful melodies are piercing; the harmonies intricate and non-conventional. The musical numbers paired well with a mixture of traditional African dance, contemporary dance, and modern  choreography.

The message was clear, don’t let the world dictate who and what it means to be Black. The most powerful line from the musical was, “Freedom starts in the mind.” If you missed ‘Black Kid Joy’ the first time around there will be an encore performance at The Arts Bank on January 14, 2017. Visit JGP.ticketleap.com for additional details.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a Comment

Recent News

Stateside

Biden signs bill to avert government shutdown, aid Ukraine

October 1, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email By KEVIN FREKING WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden signed into law Friday...

Education

A message from Superintendent Watlington regarding the shooting outside of Roxborough High School

September 30, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email Dear School District of Philadelphia staff and families, The School District of Philadelphia...

Entertainment

The Jacksons in concert on September 10

September 30, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email (Photos/Afea Tucker) The Jacksons — Jackie, Tito, and Marlon, along with a backup...

Diaspora

Puerto Ricans await aid, fret about post-hurricane recovery

September 30, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: A man points to a home that was collapsed by Hurricane...

Go With The-Flo

Lil Wayne is looking to make a big profit from the sale of his waterfront Miami Beach mansion

September 30, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: Lil Wayne (Paul Smith / Featureflash / Shutterstock) By Flo Anthony...

Food And Beverage

What’s Cookin’? Vegan Shortbread Cookies

September 30, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email Tweet Share Pin Email Related Posts What’s Cookin’? Chewy Five Ginger Spice Molasses...

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun Staff