WITNESS: review

9:41 AM
Waukesha Freeman's review:

'Witness' looks into reality of prejudice Children's Theater production set in 1920s, but still relevant today
By Julie McHale, TimeOut Theater Critic

Prejudice is a learned attitude or behavior. It is defined as an irrational hatred or judgment leveled against a person or group because of their ethnicity, religion, occupation or some other "categorization." The play "Witness," presently playing at First Stage Children’s Theater, explores this subject in a drama set in the 1920s, when the second wave of Ku Klux Klan activities flourished because of the supposed threat posed by increased immigration after World War I. Blacks, Jews, Catholics, immigrants and labor unions were the usual targets. KKK members were usually White Protestants and considered themselves the "true" Americans.

The story is set in Revelations, a small town in Vermont, in the 1920s when the KKK was forming a new chapter, right around the time that the Leopold and Loeb murder case was being tried in Chicago. The historical context is helpful in understanding the degree of prejudice that existed, and one can’t resist making some comparisons with the present day, almost a century later. We now have an African-American president, but are all Americans comfortable with this "first"? Will we ever have a Jewish one? Or an atheist, a Muslim, or a homosexual president? There will probably always be prejudice against any person who strays too far from the "norm" at any given time or who is considered too different from "us."
Read in its entirety

Photo by John Deighton Hemingway: young performer Alex Salter as Esther Hirsh with actress Sarah Day as Sara Chickering in WITNESS, playing until Feb. 22, 2009

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