Theater is like life, actor and playwright Keith Hamilton Cobb told a crowd of 650 last night at The Moon. “There’s no Take 2. That keeps it honest and authentic, which we should all be.”
We should, but we’re not, so Liz Joyner, one of Florida’s few remaining honest and authentic civility activists, invited the whole town over for pizza and a sneak preview of Cobb’s one man tour de force, American Moor. He wrote and will perform the entire show tonight and tomorrow as part of the Southern Shakespeare Festival. See it at your own risk of rethinking everything you think you know.
Cobb’s play, Cobb’s character in the play, and Cobb’s real life begin in those moments in childhood when he stumbled over Shakespeare and recognized how many of The Bard’s characters were saying “some s%$! like” he wanted to say to some idiot he had to pretend to respect.
Cobb wanted to play all the leads in Shakespeare, and he has the Benedict Cumberbatch kind of chops to do it. But as a black actor in a world where most directors are white, and trained in Ivy League drama schools followed by an immersion in The Method, you’re pretty much stuck auditioning for Othello and playing him as instructed by a kid half your age with limited experience in life and no experience being a target of bigotry, jealousy and people too blind to see.
There will be time later to heap well-earned praise upon Joyner’s Village Square, and its co-sponsors in “Created Equal,” a series of community conversations about race and the many other things that divide us. Right now, those in driving distance of FAMU’s Lee Hall should be lining up babysitters and buying tickets to see American Moor.