Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies

Critics

LemonMeter

Reviews: 1

Audience

LemonMeter

Reviews: 0

The Echo Theater Company presents an irreverent, darkly funny coming-of-age story that explores racial identity, privilege and pop culture with insight, passion and biting humor. Ahmed Best directs the Los Angeles premiere of Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies by rising-star playwright Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm, set to open March 12 for a six-week run through April 18. Three “pay what you want” previews take place on March 9, March 10 and March 11.

Marquis and Tru are both 14-year-old Black boys, but they exist in two completely different worlds. Marquis is a book smart prep-schooler living in the affluent suburb of Achievement Heights, while Tru is a street savvy kid from deep within the inner city of Baltimore. Their worlds overlap one day in a holding cell. Tru decides that Marquis has lost his “blackness” and pens a how-to manual entitled “Being Black for Dummies.” He assumes the role of professor, but Marquis proves to be a reluctant pupil. They butt heads, debate, wrestle and ultimately prove that Nietzsche and 2pac were basically saying the same thing.

“Hooded uses comedy to bring us into a world where we take a deep, challenging look into race and how we deal with the tragedies of prejudice and stereotype,” says Best. “It builds a world where we can question our perception and beliefs about one another and discover the sameness in our differences.”

Chisholm’s play is the latest in a series of Echo-produced dark comedies about what it means to come of age in America, including Dry Land, a play about female friendship, abortion and resiliency (2016 Ovation award for Best Production); The Wolves, in which members of a high school girls’ soccer team navigate life’s “big” questions (Los Angeles Times “Best of 2019” list) and, most recently, Poor Clare, in which an eerily modern 13th century teenager named Clare of Assisi has her eyes opened to the injustice of the world around her (Los Angeles Times 2021 “Memories that Cry out for Commemoration” list, current nominee for the Susan Blackburn Smith Award).

Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies opens on Saturday, March 12, with performances continuing on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 4 p.m.; and Mondays at 8 p.m. through April 18. Three preview performances are set for Wednesday, March 9; Thursday, March 10; and Friday, March 11, each at 8 p.m. Tickets are $34 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. All Monday night performances, as well as previews, are pay-what-you-want. Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Ave in Los Angeles, CA 90039. On-site parking is free. Proof of full vaccination (including booster shot if eligible) or a negative PCR test within 72 hours and valid ID are required for admission. Patrons must remain fully masked throughout the performances.

For reservations and information, call (310) 307-3753 or go to www.EchoTheaterCompany.com.

Reviews

If you’re Trayvon Martin, or any of the hundreds of African-American youth who have been gunned down by cops or vigilantes, coming of age in America can be fatal. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, the playwright opens with a forbidding Black cop, officer Borzoi (Robert Hart) instructing the audience to laugh when the LAUGH light goes on, and that “if you laugh when the light is off that makes you a racist.” He further instructs the audience to pull out their cell phones and other electronic devices and turn them ON, and if a call comes through, to feel free to carry on their conversation because, indicating the stage on which the 90-minute action is about to take place, “None of this is important.” How many people (not just Americans, of course) prefer any distraction at all over confronting their society’s, and their own, endemic racism! (Curiously enough, I didn’t hear a single cell phone ring during the show, and I’m sure glad it wasn’t mine! I kept wondering if the actors had some devastating pre-planned response to it if and when it happened.)

sweet - Eric Gordon - People's World - ...read full review


If you’re Trayvon Martin, or any of the hundreds of African-American youth who have been gunned down by cops or vigilantes, coming of age in America can be fatal. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, the playwright opens with a forbidding Black cop, officer Borzoi (Robert Hart) instructing the audience to laugh when the LAUGH light goes on, and that “if you laugh when the light is off that makes you a racist.” He further instructs the audience to pull out their cell phones and other electronic devices and turn them ON, and if a call comes through, to feel free to carry on their conversation because, indicating the stage on which the 90-minute action is about to take place, “None of this is important.” How many people (not just Americans, of course) prefer any distraction at all over confronting their society’s, and their own, endemic racism! (Curiously enough, I didn’t hear a single cell phone ring during the show, and I’m sure glad it wasn’t mine! I kept wondering if the actors had some devastating pre-planned response to it if and when it happened.)

sweet - Eric Gordon - People's World - ...read full review