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Six amateur actors have decided to dramatize a case of genocide of the Herero tribe by the German occupiers. Unfortunately, they don’t have a lot of information to work with, the only records available to them are letters written by soldiers in the German army.
“We Are Proud to Present A Presentation …” is basically a play about a play (presentation) which is very definitely a work in progress. Reading from index cards, Tracey N. Bonner makes the pre-show announcements, introduces herself and her character, Black Woman, as well as the rest of the cast, Bernard Balbot (White Man); Kamal Angelo Bolden (Black Man); Jake Cohen (Another White Man); Leah Karpel (Sarah); and Travis Turner (Another Black Man).
A short slide show, complete with a running commentary including shouts, stomps and whistles, gives an overview/timeline. The history of German control in South West Africa is not very distinguished. Early on, it was marked by their manipulations of the local tribes; later by their punitive laws on property ownership; and finally by the near annihilation of the Herero tribe.
As these eager young American actors try to dramatize German genocide, they find that the only records of the time are in the letters German soldiers wrote home. Since these letters were usually written to a loved one (the generic Sarah in this play), they tend not to contain a lot of information about the genocide, so our heroes are forced to improvise.
Jackie Sibblies Drury’s play has light moments, even funny moments, but in the end, our own history rears its ugly head. “We Are Proud to Present A Presentation …” should, at the very least, provoke discussion. It certainly did that among the opening night audience.
I thought maybe “We Are Proud to Present A Presentation …” might take the record for longest title. In fact, is actually comes in second with 27 words - the longest (according to Google) has 29.
I definitely recommend “We Are Proud to Present A Presentation …” which runs through April 29th at Victory Gardens Biograph Theatre, 2433 N. Lincoln, Chicago. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm; Saturday at 4:00; and Sunday at 3:00. Tickets range from $20-$50. FYI (773) 871-3000 or www.victorygardens.org.