Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Light. It was by Loy Webb and it was directed by Toma Langston. It was about a couple, Genesis (Tiffany Oglesby) and Rashad (Jeffery Owen Freelon, Jr.), who were celebrating their anniversary of dating. Rashad had planned a great gift for her, to go and see a concert with one of her favorite singers in it. But she wasn't so thrilled because she didn't like another of the performers who she'd gone to college with. That leads to a lot of secrets being put out in the open. And she can't see if they can continue the relationship after the things he has said. It is about the challenges of love, misunderstandings, and learning to really change. I think this was an absolutely beautiful, moving, and fantastic show. I think that every person that is in a relationship or ever wants to be, should see this show. It provokes so many emotions in you, it is beautifully acted, and the writing felt very real--like real life and real conversations.
The first 10 or 15 minutes of this play are just pure joy. They love each other so much. They are bantering. They are talking about an adorable child, Rashad's daughter, whose picture is on the refrigerator. Genesis is eating from an enormous bowl of chocolate. You feel close to them in the first few minutes. You see how adorable they are and you want them to be together forever. At the beginning you see him getting ready for her to come home, and how excited he is. He's trying to find the right position to sit in so he seems perfectly normal. Then when she comes home you see how well they know each other, and how they know how to make each other laugh. They know how to push each other's buttons, but in a sweet and adorable way. This makes every moment that they disagree so much more painful. It is terrible to see when their differences become so difficult that they can't make light of them.
Both of these characters are very complex. Neither of them is fully right all the time. There isn't a villain; it is just two people having an argument. Each of them has a point. Rashad thinks they should go to the concert because he pulled a lot of strings and got them VIP passes. It was a really nice idea because he knew how much she loved this one performer, but also he knew that she didn't like another performer there and didn't ever ask the reason why she didn't like him. I don't think Genesis should have to go to the concert, because the reason she has is very valid, but she could have told him the reason earlier so he could understand. I do think she isn't required to share this certain terrible part of her life if she wants to forget it and not let it define her. But, if she wants him to believe the truth of her story, she needs to give him the whole truth. If she had, he probably would have conceded about not going to the concert and chosen a different plan.
Men are taught in very different ways than women, so a lot of ideas about masculinity and relationships are different for men and women. But a lot of times, men say that it is too much work to learn about the woman's side of the story and they continue with their sexist ways. And even a lot of the time when they do want to learn they make the woman teach them, instead of trying to find it out by themselves. But in this play, Rashad wants to learn and he wants to teach himself. He loves Genesis and he wants to understand what he couldn't understand before. It is very important for the people in the relationship to take responsibility for their own learning rather than getting the other person to take you on as a project. Usually in stories, the man runs back and says "I've made a huge mistake. I love you" and the woman forgives him. Or sometimes she says, "no, you made a mistake. I'm not taking you back." But stories don't usually show you the healthy ending for both people involved, where forgiveness is asked for and waited for patiently and the person who has been wrong takes responsibility for changing themselves. This play shows that that is an option. You don't just have to just forgive each other and go back to the way that things were; you can work through it and make changes.
Photos: Evan Hanover