People Where They Are
San Jose Stage Company
A Black man dressed in coat and tie walks into a room lined with bookshelves where six chairs are arranged in a circle. Looking at the other five people, he asks the one other Black – Mrs. Clark, a woman with a welcoming smile – “Why are all these white people here? In Alabama, Black and white in the same meeting is against the law.” She calmly looks at him, replying, “Same here.”
After all, it is 1955 in Monteagle, Tennessee, in a sundown county where by law and practice Blacks are not to let the sun set with them still within county lines. (“Here they lynch to keep people out.”) Why then is the twenty-year-old Highlander Folk School located there, an institute that has always had integrated, residential workshops for people organizing labor and social rights groups? “If you want to change people, you have to start where people are,” Mrs. Clark explains.
San Jose Stage Company presents the West Coast premiere of Anthony Clarvoe’s People Where They Are – an eye-opening, electrifying course in the real history of the school that taught the likes of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and John Lewis how to stand up (and often sit down) in non-violent protests even when threatened by “badges,” “hoods,” and/or “gasoline and torches.” With a jaw-droppingly stellar cast and Benny Sato Ambush’s inspired and bold directorial decisions by the dozens, People Where They Are is a must-attend, must-experience class where the lessons to be learned are as important – if not more so – in today’s America than they were in those early years of the Civil Rights Movement.
For my complete review, please continue to Talkin’Broadway.
Rating: 5 E, MUST-SEE
A Theatre Eddys Best Bet Production
People Where They Are continues through February 25, 2024, in production by San Jose Stage Company, 490 South 1st Street, San Jose. Tickets are available online at www.thestage.org/ or by email at email@example.com.