Inlet Dance Presents “The Black Card Project” @ Akron Civic Theatre

 

Fri 1/7 @ 7:30PM

When we saw the world premiere of The Black Card Project back in September of 2018, we were simultaneously jazzed and in despair. Black Card was so good — insightful and funny, well thought out and produced with super-effective props and costumes and no shortage of dancing — but it seemed unlikely that we’d ever connect with them in a way that could lead to a preview.

The darn thing about these emerging artists is that even if they have their artistic thing together they usually do not have their public relations thing up and running so they typically emerge suddenly and then disappear, only to reemerge again later with equally little warning. We tell them, “We think you’re awesome! Send us a press release before your next show.” But of course they have no press release to send out; their entire public relations effort is run out of their bedroom in their spare time and as a result their concerts are only sparsely attended, and mostly by their families and their Facebook friends.

But Black Card’s creator, Dominic Moore-Dunson, and his collaborator, Kevin Parker, are both in Inlet Dance Theatre and Inlet’s founder and executive/artistic director Bill Wade is all about mentoring, artistic process and — in this case — producing. Put that together with the three fellowships that Moore-Dunson landed when he was recuperating from a knee injury and you have — tada! — Black Card back with a press release with just enough time for a preview.

In case you don’t know, or in case you’re thinking of your American Express card, the program notes for Black Card defines that eponymous card “The Black Card,” as “an African-American metaphor of one’s black identity, authenticity, or belonging.”

Yes, dear readers, Black Card concerns itself with racial issues in America, but unlike so many well-meaning narratives that become insupportable downers, it keeps things funny and upbeat. Characters, especially the protagonist, are sources of humor; they’re all ultimately likeable. The task that confronts Artie Alvin Beatty III — young, homeschooled, and black — is not to escape Simon Legree (a task Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom never addresses) nor to stick it to the man (as do John Shaft I and II as portrayed by Richard Roundtree and Samuel Jackson). Instead, young Artie must learn to see past the overly narrow, stereotypical role models and career options considered appropriate to an African-American in the late 20th and early 21st century.

Moore-Dunson is a big guy. Watching him on stage you might wonder if he ever played football, but he addressed that question in a post-performance Q&A in 2018 saying he’s always preferred soccer — and dance. “Not black enough” was the response of his high school friends but that got Moore-Dunson thinking, which led to The Black Card Project.

Inlet Dance Theatre presents Dominic Moore-Dunson’s The Black Card Project. One show only at Fri 1/17 @ 7:30pm at Akron Civic Theatre. Tickets are $35 VIP, $20 general admission, $15 senior, $10 student or under 18. Go to akroncivic.com/shows/ or call 330-253-2488.

[Written by Elsa Johnson and Victor Lucas]

 

 

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