The music-infused play “Party People” explores how emotionally taxing it is “to be woke” today.
Katherine Brooks: Senior Arts & Culture Editor, The Huffington Post.
“Party People” opens on a young man ― a Panther Cub ― practicing a monologue before a propped-up camera. His words cut through the audience as he recounts his Black Panther father, or more accurately, the absence of his long-imprisoned Black Panther father. The speech is partly a recognition of the paternal greatness that came before the Cub, but more so an indictment of the recklessness and abandonment of a generation of activism that he feels hasn’t paid off yet.
At least, not for the generation coming of age today, still fighting against police brutality and other forms of institutionalized racism.
The music-infused play, created by the theater ensemble Universes and developed by “Eclipsed” director Liesl Tommy, eventually culminates in a reunion between these generations. Facilitated by artists-slash-activists Malik (the Cub) and Jimmy, the confrontational gathering pits an older group of people, profoundly proud of their struggle to provide health benefits to a community so often denied them, against a youthful contingent, resentful of the fact that their parents sacrificed so much ― namely, their families ― to start a revolution with no end in sight. A generation confused as to what their role in fighting injustice should be.