A bold new play is coming to the Gilbert Theater for the season's final show.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Fairview,” written by Jackie Sibblies in 2018, will run from May 7 through June 12.
“I picked this play because it's a challenging piece for the director, the technical director, the actors on stage and the audience,” said Laurence Carlisle III, the Gilbert's Artistic Director.
“It's a show about racism, how stories are told and how stories can change based on the people watching them.”
Throughout its three acts, “Fairview” focuses on two groups of people: an African American family preparing for a birthday party and the four white people observing them as they do so.
“The play is a very nuanced and intelligent dissection of the ‘white gaze’ and what happens as the stories you try to tell are altered and affected by those watching and listening,” Carlisle stated. “The show demonstrates the transformative nature of observation in an interesting twilight-zone sort of way; the show starts pretty normally and slowly gets weirder and weirder.”
The Gilbert Theater prides itself on the diversity often seen in its productions and encourages anyone and everyone from the community to come out and audition.
However, since race is the play's central topic and integral to telling the story, the director followed the vision of “Fairview's” playwright and cast actors that reflect the race of their characters as written.
“It's important to the story and how it needs to be told,” explained Carlisle. “We had to have this particular make of the cast for the play to work.”
In her main stage-show directorial debut, Deannah Robinson will lead a cast of four white actors and four African American actors in a play Carlisle is excited for people to see.
“Race is a topic that bears discussion — it's not going away,” he said. “I've always felt the job of art in any form is to make people think, make them think about things they don't think about or make them think about it differently. I think this is a fantastic show, and I want people to come to check it out; it's extremely fascinating.”
“Fairview” follows Gilbert's production of “Othello" by William Shakespeare, another play that takes a focused look at race and other uncomfortable topics. While their position in the season is a coincidence, both plays and their subject matter speak to his vision for the theater and the material it produces.
“I hope to bring thought-provoking content in all my seasons,” Carlisle said. “If you want something that challenges you and makes you a little uncomfortable, but you also want to be entertained, see this show. The play is very funny but sometimes very uncomfortable. I hope it sparks conversation and makes people think about race in America and what their own blind spots are when it comes to that subject.”
General admission tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at www.gilberttheater.com or by calling 910-678-7186.
Discount tickets for first responders, military, students and seniors are also available.
The Gilbert Theater is located at 116 Green St. inside the Fascinate U Children's Museum building.