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Fact - In Omaha, Nebraska in September 1919, Agnes Loebeck, a 19-year-old white woman, reported that she was stuck up and then sexually molested by a black man while returning home with her boyfriend.
The following day, Will Brown, a 41-year-old packinghouse worker who was crippled with severe arthritis and lived with a white woman, was arrested as a suspect.
Stone), the playwright has appointed a pair of nameless, fictional characters to tell — "to teach" — a very real story.
Under the direction of Rob Urbanski, actors Spencer Scott Barros and Kelcey Watson play a pair of traveling minstrel showmen who, like many black performers of their day, make their living by rendering "tableaus of Negro life" in blackface.
Brought to the courthouse and placed in a cell with Will Brown, the minstrels became witness to the horrifying mob murder.
A few days later, these black men in cork blackface were rousted mid-performance and dragged back to the courthouse to testify before a committee investigating the riot.
Consequently, what could come off as preachy or didactic in lesser hands is instead invested with a mastery of the material that extends from the "complex syncopations" of the prison songs, to the voice artistry of the comic bits. DANIELS Unsettling and compelling, Max Sparber's "Minstrel Show or the Lynching of William Brown" re-creates a harrowing true story about the 1919 lynching of a jailed black man, as seen through the eyes of a couple of fictional song-and-dance men.
Still, it's in the red meat of the story — the real-time retelling of the events leading up to the lynching and its appalling aftermath — that the actors operate on all cylinders, with their enthralling descriptions, characterizations and pantomimes abetted by Jill Nagle's lighting and the sound effects of Jessica Paz. The season opener for New Jersey Repertory Company begins on a light note with a couple of knockabout minstrel comics singing "yahoo" songs from the cotton fields, then quickly turns into a graphic narrative of angry crowd hysteria.
Despite the title, there actually is very little of a traditional "Mr. Having both done time at the "Parchment Farm" workhouse camp, the entertainers deliver a set of songs that originated in prison settings.
The two-hander begins with Sho-Nuff (Kelcey Watson) and Yas-Yas (Spencer Scott Barros) illustrating the origins of the minstrel show, when white entertainers blackened their faces with burnt cork.
Subsequently, even black artists had to coat themselves with shoe polish.
Fiction – On the evening that the mob was growing outside the courthouse, two black minstrel show actors were assaulted in an alley while trying to escape a dozen ruffians who had invaded their show and commenced to beat everyone in sight with baseball bats and wooden planks.
Police rousted the ruffians, but then proceeded to arrest the bloodied minstrels on charges of disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct.