4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Fear of a black-man label

Blue Door closing, but not without revelation

Vimel Sephus and Cortez L. Johnson in Blue Door
Vimel Sephus and Cortez L. Johnson in Blue Door

LAST CALL. Moxie Theatre’s excellent production of Tanya Barfield’s Blue Door must close this Sunday. It’s said Moxie is a “women-centered” theater. That’s not completely true. Here’s an exception.

Blue Door

  • Moxie Theatre, 6663 El Cajon Boulevard, Suite N, Rolando
  • $15 - $30

In Leo Tolstoy’s novella The Death of Ivan Illych, the title character lives a life that’s “most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.” He tried to fit in, to go along, and tried not to admit that his wife was too demanding and his job — where he put all his energy — too unfulfilling. On his death bed he has a revelation: every move he ever made was false, artificial, programmed by others. He never once dared to be his authentic self.

In Blue Door, Lewis has trod a similar path. An African-American, he has tried every way possible to deny his roots: fought against a stereotype by marrying a white woman and became a hotshot mathematician at a prestigious university. That’s the image he always wanted. A rational mind — maybe even a genius about the mysteries of time and non-linearity — standing tall above the fray.

But white professors at the university haven’t quite accepted him. He’s more a safe token of an integrated faculty than a colleague. And now, after 25 years, his wife wants a divorce because he won’t go on the Million Man March in Washington DC (it’s 1995). That would label him as a black man. Also, she says something vague about housekeeping that’s been on her mind for nine or ten years.

The only good news: unlike Ivan Illych, Lewis isn’t on his death bed. He might as well be, though. His carefully cultivated, decades-in-the making image just crashed and burned.

During a dark night of the soul — a “ten-year night” — his ancestors come to call. They tell stories of slavery, horrific abuse, convictions for ridiculous crimes (one spent ten years in prison for trespassing in a white church), and relentless injustice. This is the past Lewis fought to forget.

But other traits emerge from the stories: courage, resilience, a shared authenticity. In August Wilson’s Fences, ex–baseball star Troy Maxson looks back on his life and says you must take the bad with the good, the “crookeds with the straights.” Lewis’s ancestors teach a similar lesson.

Playing through March 5

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Mira Mesa man captured first giant panda in 1936

SeaWorld dolphin training, Wild Animal Park in its first year, taming of a violent elephant, the Zoo's hunt for pandas, how men and animals differ
Next Article

Escondido's hidden gems of influence

Paul McNamara seeks advice regarding unnamed YouTube video givers
Vimel Sephus and Cortez L. Johnson in Blue Door
Vimel Sephus and Cortez L. Johnson in Blue Door

LAST CALL. Moxie Theatre’s excellent production of Tanya Barfield’s Blue Door must close this Sunday. It’s said Moxie is a “women-centered” theater. That’s not completely true. Here’s an exception.

Blue Door

  • Moxie Theatre, 6663 El Cajon Boulevard, Suite N, Rolando
  • $15 - $30

In Leo Tolstoy’s novella The Death of Ivan Illych, the title character lives a life that’s “most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.” He tried to fit in, to go along, and tried not to admit that his wife was too demanding and his job — where he put all his energy — too unfulfilling. On his death bed he has a revelation: every move he ever made was false, artificial, programmed by others. He never once dared to be his authentic self.

In Blue Door, Lewis has trod a similar path. An African-American, he has tried every way possible to deny his roots: fought against a stereotype by marrying a white woman and became a hotshot mathematician at a prestigious university. That’s the image he always wanted. A rational mind — maybe even a genius about the mysteries of time and non-linearity — standing tall above the fray.

But white professors at the university haven’t quite accepted him. He’s more a safe token of an integrated faculty than a colleague. And now, after 25 years, his wife wants a divorce because he won’t go on the Million Man March in Washington DC (it’s 1995). That would label him as a black man. Also, she says something vague about housekeeping that’s been on her mind for nine or ten years.

The only good news: unlike Ivan Illych, Lewis isn’t on his death bed. He might as well be, though. His carefully cultivated, decades-in-the making image just crashed and burned.

During a dark night of the soul — a “ten-year night” — his ancestors come to call. They tell stories of slavery, horrific abuse, convictions for ridiculous crimes (one spent ten years in prison for trespassing in a white church), and relentless injustice. This is the past Lewis fought to forget.

But other traits emerge from the stories: courage, resilience, a shared authenticity. In August Wilson’s Fences, ex–baseball star Troy Maxson looks back on his life and says you must take the bad with the good, the “crookeds with the straights.” Lewis’s ancestors teach a similar lesson.

Playing through March 5

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Escondido's hidden gems of influence

Paul McNamara seeks advice regarding unnamed YouTube video givers
Next Article

Mira Mesa man captured first giant panda in 1936

SeaWorld dolphin training, Wild Animal Park in its first year, taming of a violent elephant, the Zoo's hunt for pandas, how men and animals differ
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close