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Spectrum: A Rap on Race 

When: Feb. 9-10, 8 p.m. and Sat., Feb. 10, 2 p.m. 2018
Price: tickets start at $54

Spectrum Dance Theater’s A Rap on Race

In 2016, Seattle’s Spectrum Dance Theater’s artistic director, the legendary choreographer Donald Byrd, collaborated with the equally formidable playwright, Anna Deavere Smith, to combine text from the transcript of the epic 1970 James Baldwin and Margaret Mead conversation, “A Rap on Race,” the music of Charles Mingus, and the vigorous physicality of Spectrum’s company artists into an urgent interrogation on race relations in the U.S. For Byrd — whose credits include the Broadway staging of The Color Purple, and more controversial fare such as The Minstrel Show in 1991 and The Harlem Nutcracker in 1996 — addressing the topic of race through dance has been a career-long hallmark, while Smith has been exploring the theatrical potential of Baldwin’s words since 2014. Together, they’ve created a work that highlights the wearying persistence of having to have the same conversations now as Baldwin and Mead had 48 years ago, with a similar level of frustration. “What’s really terrible,” intones Byrd as Baldwin, “is to face the fact that you cannot trust your countrymen.” Presented by Cal Performances as part of its ongoing Berkeley RADICAL series (despite the Oakland location).
— Nicole Gluckstern


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