Monday, May 14, 2018

Fringe 2018 review: In 'Somebody's History,' a white woman monologues on race relations

Posted By on Mon, May 14, 2018 at 12:46 PM

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Between the resurgence of white nationalism and the increase in police violence against minorities, there’s probably no more crucial crisis in today’s society than the growing division between Caucasians and Americans of color. So who better to try to bridge that gap by dropping knowledge than a self-described super-pale blonde woman from Minnesota?

As a middle-school social studies teacher, Amy Selikoff has certainly done her homework, extensively researching the story of African American oppression from the Middle Passage to the murder of Tamir Rice. In Somebody’s History, Selikoff shares those stories, and the revulsion they rightfully provoke, through a series of impassioned spoken-word monologues documenting the United States’ history of racial oppression, resulting in the depressingly inevitable impression that Jim Crow-style segregation is disturbingly resurgent.

Somebody’s History makes an important plea for white Americans to pop their self-protective bubble, and although it’s apparent that Selikoff’s heart is firmly in the right place, her message is somewhat undermined by her presentation. The show is more of a stand-up sermon than a theatrical production; while the material is thoughtful and funny – her KKK parody songs and Oregon Trail exposé are hilarious – a handheld microphone and several momentum-sapping intermissions create an unnecessary barrier between performer and audience, making it less a dialogue than a diatribe.

Though she’s quick to call out her students and parents for being insufficiently “woke,” Amy never truly turns her microscope on herself, acknowledging but not fully exploring her personal complicity in white privilege. And an extended segment, in which Selikoff Google-maps her childhood home’s proximity to the spot in St. Paul where Philando Castile was shot, feels well-intentioned but tone-deaf. Considering the role white women played in electing Trump, an intimate portrait of race relations from their perspective is probably long overdue, but this noble effort ultimately preaches to Fringe’s choir.



Somebody’s History
Amy Selikoff, Orlando FL
13 & Up – Strong Language, Mature Themes
60 Minutes
Blue Venue
Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 5:30 PM
Sunday, May 20, 2018 @ 3:00 PM
Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 9:00 PM
Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 1:00 PM
Sunday, May 27, 2018 @ 4:00 PM


Check out ALL of our Fringe 2018 reviews at orlandoweekly.com/fringe2018

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