The recipient of the 2019 Pulitzer for Drama has been announced, and the winner is both odd and terrific. Fairview, written by Jackie Sibblies Drury, is now a Pulitzer Prize winner, and it is also the play that has made me the most uncomfortable I have ever been inside a theater. In a good way.
Fairview is supposed to make its audiences uncomfortable. That’s the point of the show. And in recognizing it, the Pulitzer Board is making a statement: It is rewarding shows that are aggressive toward their audiences, that refuse to let us relax into easy catharsis. That’s a good thing.
Fairview was staged in 2018 by New York’s Soho Rep, where I saw it, and it will return to stages this June. It reveals itself to the audience slowly, one sharp-edged act at a time.
In its first act, Fairview appears to be a warm-hearted if slightly dated family comedy. Beverly Fraser, a frazzled suburban mother, is preparing for her mother’s birthday party, and she wants her house to be perfect for the occasion, but she is alternately helped and harried by her loving husband, her drama queen sister, and her unpredictable teenage daughter Keisha. Oh — and the Frasers are black. But that’s not important in a post-racial world. Right?
It all feels like an episode from an early ’90s black family sitcom, a little bit Cosby and a little bit A Different World. The jokes are all amplified just a little beyond naturalism, and the conflict is gentle to the point of feeling slightly sleepy. There are only occasional flashes that something might be just a little bit off: The music is spiked with bursts of static; once Beverly seems to almost peer over the edge of the stage and out into the audience; Keisha addresses the audience directly, just once, breaking the fourth wall in a brief, jarring moment. But all of those flickers pass by so quickly that you aren’t quite sure what to make of them — until the second act comes.
Acts two and three are simultaneously dazzling and discomfiting in the ways they demand accountability from their audience. They surgically deconstruct everything that has come before, and devastatingly, they reveal the double meaning of the play’s title. “Fair” as in just, and “fair” as in white.
If you haven’t seen Fairview and you plan to do so soon, I’ll advise you to stop reading now. Because Fairview is at its best when you have no idea what’s coming — but to talk about it, we’ve got to talk about some spoilers.
As act two of Fairview begins, the Frasers are repeating all of the actions we saw them execute in act one, but now their voices are muted, inaudible. Over them, a voice that is recognizably white and male, and almost certainly straight, speaks in a chatty, naturalistic register.
“No, but like, like if you could choose to be any race you want, any race at all,” he says, “what race would you be?”
He’s joined by a group of recognizably white voices, who talk amiably over the action onstage as though they are making small talk at a party: a flamboyant gay man, a French woman, an American woman wary of offending anyone. Gradually, it becomes clear that they too are watching the Frasers onstage, and they are gleefully fetishizing what they see.
The gay man sighs over the “fierceness” of black women. The French woman sneers that “these people” have no taste, that they are bourgeois. The American woman, who repeatedly tells everyone else how problematic they are being, bursts into tears when she talks about being brought up by a black nanny and as a result really understanding African American culture on a level that no one else does. The straight man tells her that she’s not fierce and strong enough to be a black woman.
All of this is enough to make the white audience members squirm in their seats in discomfort — but the atmosphere gets that much more charged once the owners of the offstage voices charge the stage and try to take over the action of the play themselves.
And then it gets even more charged when Keisha tells them to stop, turns on the house lights, and then turns to the audience to ask everyone who identifies as white to leave their seats if they are able and climb onto the stage.
“Will they make space for us,” Keisha asks of the white people in the audience, “if I ask them to?”
MaYaa Boateng, who played Keisha at Soho Rep and will reprise the role again this year, delivers the request gently, even sweetly. But it’s an uncomfortable thing, to be asked to leave your seat and come up to the stage in the middle of a play because of your race. When I saw it last year, I heard grumblings from audience members who found the moment “humiliating,” and during at least one performance, it prompted audible outbursts in the audience. (“I think it’s condescending — to white people and to black people!”)
It’s also the moment that makes Fairview unforgettable. This play is asking white people to stop suffocating black people with their fetishistic interest, to allow black people to tell their own stories, to give them room to be subjects rather than objects — and the final moments of the play make that request literal. They make the stakes of the question as close to real as they can get inside the walls of a theater.
The white people in the audience climb up into the stage, and Keisha walks out into the audience, to address “all my colorful people.”
“Do I have to keep talking to the white people?” she asks. “Do I have to keep talking to them, and keep talking to them, and keep talking only to them, only to them, only to them, until I have used up every word?”
It’s a fair question, and Drury poses it as directly and intensely as it is possible to do.
In honoring Fairview, the Pulitzer board has also honored that question, and made it one that can be central to the way we talk about stories both inside the theater and outside of it.
Cute Baby Dresses New Fashion Trend
26 Cat Tattoos That Can Leave a Paw Print on Your Heart
Tattoos are so popular that, for example, Americans spend $1.65 billion on them every year. As we know, cats are popular too. And real magic happens when these 2 things combine into one. We get great and unusual images of fluffies that perfectly emphasize their grace, sweetness and beauty.
We at Bright Side love cats and everything that’s connected with them. Therefore, we want to show you beautiful tattoos of these incredible animals. And we warn you that after seeing these, you might also want to get a couple of tattoos.
1. “So…I got a tattoo of our 1-eyed floof.”
2. Beauty in minimalism
4. Sleeping with a mini-copy of itself
5. Magnetic eyes
6. 2 cats are better than 1
7. One line is enough to show grace.
8. A baby with its toy
9. “The tattoo I got of my cat Spice who passed over the rainbow bridge last year”
10. Here’s what tenderness looks like:
11. Bright colors make everything shine.
12. This kitten fits in the palm of your hand.
13. “Got this tattoo today of my boy who sadly passed away 3 months ago. I had 9 amazing years with him.”
14. The prettiest tiger ever
15. Fluffy squad
16. “OMG! Is it me?”
17. “Aristocats” tattoo
18. Exactly the same
19. Art of balancing
20. “I just love her so much and this came out absolutely perfect. My little cosmic goddess, baby girl Stevie!”
21. Don’t mess with this kitty.
22. Cats are never too much.
23. “2 brothers, 1 love”
24. Kittens are experts in romance.
25. The smell of freedom
26. “I’ll sit here for a bit.”
Would you ever get a cat tattoo? Or maybe you already have one! Share your thoughts and photos in the comments.
23 Times We Wanted to Arrest the Police for Being Too Cool
The police have a tough and pretty serious job to accomplish, so it’s really something when policemen surprise us with their sense of humor… Yes! They have a funny side too. Seeing them in cute photos taken when on duty or capturing themselves in ironic moments makes us want to offer them a hug.
At Bright Side we made a compilation of all the moments when people on duty proved to us that they are more than just serious law enforcement officials and that they take some time to chill just like we do.
1. When you are on duty but… SNOW ANGELS!
2. The roads were closed for the annual goose parade.
3. My iguana ran away, but the police found him. I had to pick him up from jail.
4. Junior class is always the hardest.
5. You know how it’s said that policemen love donuts, well they even workout with them.
6. When your Pokémon Go obsession is out of control:
7. This playground is totally safe.
8. A police officer was hired to supervise students because of a drug problem in school, but ended up playing magic the gathering with them.
9. Cops? What cops?
10. They were called to help with the snow but… Hey! If you don’t enjoy your job…
11. If you drink and drive your luxury room is already booked for you.
12. Parma Police officers found a bird and its nest at the base of a police car’s windshield, and they did their best to protect it.
13. Just don’t speed or you’ll get serenaded at your car door.
14. My friend is a cop in Australia and was put in charge of the traffic signs in his town. Oh, and he loves Ghostbusters.
15. Nobody move! We are going to search every dog in town.
16. But we love Cheetos on winter nights…
17. The police were called to campus today. I guess they got the job done.
18. Free advice for drivers:
19. Saving you from high temperatures too!
20. Good partners make space for each other.
21. That’s it! No more star wars for you mister.
22. Policemen chasing criminals in rollerblades, how cool is that!
23. Using her radar gun to make people smile, that’s a first.
We truly enjoy watching people have fun, especially those whose jobs are usually tough. And seeing their amusing personalities unfold is just an added bonus! Have you caught moments like this on the street? Do you have a cool story that includes the police? Share it in the comments.
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