So we saw ‘The Niceties’ at Geva Theatre Center last week. I had my students read Edward Baptist’s ‘We still lie about slavery: Here’s the truth about how the American economy and power were built on forced migration and torture’ which connects slavery to capitalist enterprise and the transformation of the American economy from a backwater to global hegemon. Later in class, Luticha A Doucette used Dr. Edwin J. Nichols’ ‘The philosophical aspects of cultural difference’ to analyze the play through a cultural/historical lens. Much of our syllabus connects back to ideas explored in the play, e.g. we saw a video about ‘Why is my curriculum white’ on the first day of class. I asked students to use all these texts and frameworks to write an analysis of the play. They wrote solid essays. This is how one of them began:
‘Attending a play at Geva Theater in the heart of downtown Rochester that consists of two characters conversing in an office for the entirety of the performance is not something many would think to be enjoyable. I truly did not enjoy this play, but that is because it opened my eyes to how small-minded I have been. This play was not enjoyable, it was eye-opening. The microaggressions and subtle racist and insensitive occurrences that were repeatedly pointed out throughout the play were things that I would not bat an eye at before seeing this play. However, after watching the performance and taking part in discussions that took an in-depth look at the deeper meaning behind the play, I understand the people who spend their lives struggling in a world dominated by whiteness.’
I wish I could have these students for an entire year [St John Fisher College Honors Program].