Thought-provoking 'Race' at Weathervane explores prejudice, stereotypes

by April Helms Special Products Editor Published:

A big issue that is seldom discussed is tackled head-on in Weathervane Playhouse's production of "Race," by David Mamet.

The show, directed by Jennifer Kay Jeter, explores not only racial stereotypes, but preconceptions about sex and economic status. And Mamet's work pulls no punches.

In the play, Jack Lawson (played by Record Publishing Co.'s Scott Shriner) and Henry Brown (played by Brian Kenneth Armour), who both run a law firm, are debating whether to take on the case of Charles Strickland (played by James Rizopulos), a white, wealthy businessman who has been accused of raping a black woman. Susan (played by Johnetta Harris), a young black woman who was recently hired into the law firm, adds to a volatile mix as each of the characters bluntly express their assumptions and beliefs on race, wealth and sex. The play, which runs without intermission, has a surprise ending that few, if anyone, saw coming.

"I think it helps open up conversation," Jeter said during the audience talkback after the Feb. 2 show. Weathervane offers talkbacks with the cast after its Sunday performances. "In talking about this, it opened up conversations I didn't see coming. I've had women tell me their rape stories, and how they felt expendable. I think people are still aware that racism is an issue."

Armour said the issues are "uncomfortable to talk about outside the theater."

"It's about dialogue and empathy," he said during the talkback. "It's about getting rid of the preconceptions we may have."

For example, Harris, who lives in Twinsburg, said her character was largely ignored by Jack and Henry.

"I don't know if they underestimated me," Harris said. "Rather, they didn't pay attention to me. I'm the only character up there who doesn't have a last name."

Harris said this was only the second show she had ever done. Her first was "Steel Magnolias" at Aurora Community Theatre, where she played Annelle.

"It was something I always wanted to do but I was too shy," Harris said. "I reached a time in my life where I became a stay-at-home mom, and my kids are in school. One day, my husband said something and he annoyed me, so I went and auditioned," she said, then laughed. "I got the part."

Ticket and show information

Due to its adult themes and strong language, "Race" is not recommended for children.

Performance days and times are Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $21 each; $19 tickets for seniors are available for Thursday and Sunday performances. Tickets for children (ages 17 or younger) and college students are $5 each at all performances. Additional discounts for groups of 10 or larger are also available.

The Weathervane Playhouse box office is open Mondays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and is also open beginning one hour before each performance. For tickets, visit or call the Weathervane Box Office at 330-836-2626 during Box Office hours or connect online to www.weathervaneplayhouse.com.

Next on stage

Weathervane will next produce "Life With Father," which will run March 27 through April 13.

Email: ahelms@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9438

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