The Illumination Project was hosted by LBCC and put on by Portland Community College. There was a nice write up in the Commuter about the show.
My thoughts on the show: While racism is an issue is our country, I have never witnessed it locally in the way presented. Perhaps this is because I am white, or perhaps it is because I have a rather thick skin and tend to ignore stupid. Perhaps it is because I was fortunate to grow up in a family who believed that people are just people, regardless of color, age, gender, or whom they choose to sleep with.
I have witnessed segregation in my husband's home town, not the separation of bathrooms and water fountains, but the clear divisions of white neighborhood, black neighborhood, Cuban neighborhood. This show didn't go into larger race issues, but personal race issues.
In many ways I felt that the production was an excellent idea, but I am torn about its effectiveness because the show seemed to me to promote oversensitivity and unreality. Many people who got on the stage said things like, "Please don't say such a thing as it is discriminatory." The reality is that most people that I know who overheard a racially inappropriate comment between friends would say nothing like that. We would say, "shut up, you sound like an ass." (and that would solve the problem)
I also noticed that the person who was being "put down" was never encouraged to stand up for themselves. It was always left to a friend or other outsider to say something in defense of the "injured party." I have taught my children never to hit first, but if someone hits them they had better hit back. I feel the same way about racism, sexism, or any other similar situation. If someone is obnoxious to you, you have not only the right, but the duty to stand up for yourself and say something. If someone calls you a name you don't like (as in the play one friend calls the other, who is native American, Sacajawea) you say, "how rude, don't call me that" or you just don't hang out with them anymore. I have told my five year old many times that if one of his friends is mean to him, stop playing with them! If they want to play with you, they will figure out that being mean isn't the way to do it and will change their behavior. If they don't get it, you don't want to be friends with them anyway. There are lots of other kids to play with! My foster daughter is half south Korean. She was once called exotic looking, and she replied beautifully, "What do you mean, I am exotic? There are more Asian people than white people in the world..." The startled young man hemmed and hawed and even blushed. He told her that he had just meant she was very pretty. Still, she stood up for herself when she felt he was treating her looks as a stereotype instead of as personally.
One very positive thing that came of the play is that my friends and I did discuss race and racism after we saw the show. If nothing else, the play did indeed gets us talking and in the end I believe that is what the folks that presented it really wanted to get the viewers to do.
The perception of racial traits... an interesting watch.