By: Curious Theatre Company On: May 09, 2016 In: Curious & Curiouser Blog Comments: 0

by Maggie Schlundt

I had heard a lot about ‘White Guy on the Bus’ before going to the first read through. I heard it was “incendiary”. I heard it was “fiery”. I heard that the Black Lives Matter 5280 pulled out of doing talkbacks with the cast after reading the script. I had heard that the creative team was scared- scared to put something so controversial on stage, scared of how the public would react, scared of what might happen when they present a story makes every audience member uncomfortable.

Before the reading started, the whole room was buzzing with the excitement and nervousness of people about to leap out of their comfort zones.

There were two quotes that Chip (who’s directing the show) shared at the top of rehearsal, which set the tone for what followed:

1)”If it doesn’t boil the blood, then we’re not doing our job.” – Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage

2) “You’re not born woke. Something wakes you up.” – Baltimore Mayoral Candidate & Black Lives Matter Leader DeRay McKesson

Those quotes perfectly highlight the intent and impact of ‘White Guy on the Bus’. It is a play that wakes you up to your own prejudices, your own racism, the systematic, institutionalized racism so ingrained in our society that it seems insurmountable… After you’re woke, your blood begins to boil.

This play made me strongly feel so many things. I felt sad for and furious at the characters at the same time. There was one point where I was so deeply annoyed at a character that was a white, mid-20s, privileged woman and then my annoyance turned to embarrassment, because she in too many reminded me of myself. I could see myself making the achingly naïve, stupidly hypocritical, unknowingly racist statements she was making.

I think the strength in the show, and why it is so effective at making you uncomfortable, is that it presents you with complex characters that you see yourself in. This play forces you to look in the mirror and you might see something ugly. What I saw made me very angry. But that is exactly why I think this play is so important. We need to unflinchingly confront and acknowledge the prejudice/racism that exists not just in society but also within ourselves if we are ever going to move forward.

Please, come see ‘White Guy on the Bus’. Be brave enough to see yourself in it. Get mad, get embarrassed, let your blood boil, then let’s talk, let’s do something about it.