“POWER!” Stokely Carmichael

by John Stoltenberg

I wish that recent events had not made this powerful theater experience so necessary.

I wish that Capital Fringe would have come along again and this production would have warranted theatergoers’ advance attention mainly for the accolades it garnered during last summer’s festival (Pick of the Fringe Special Director Award, DC Metro Theater Arts Best of Fringe) and on tour in L.A.

I wish I could have gone to the Trinidad Theatre to see this show and walked out overwhelmed solely on the basis of its formidable artistic merits—as one of the best-written, best-acted, and best-directed solo theater pieces I have ever seen, a polished work that could easily command any major stage in town.

I wish I could just say this is a great show put on by some terrific talents (Writer and Performer Meshaun Labrone, Director Jennifer Knight, Projection Designer Hope Villanueva, Sound Designer Elisheba Ittoop, and Lighting Designer Marianne Meadows).

I wish I could talk about how interesting it is that back in 1966 a young Black revolutionary named Stokely Carmichael advocated for Black Power because he foresaw that freedom and assimilation would be insufficient, and how interesting it is that he explicitly cited white supremacy as the crux of the problem, and how interesting it is that he viewed nonviolence as a useful tactic but not a binding principle, and how interesting it is that that he and his views have disappeared.

I wish there were still some privileged standpoint of aesthetic distance from which this play about Stokely Carmichael could be discussed and appreciated as a superb work of art, applauded and recommended as a don’t-miss peak experience in artful docudrama and virtuoso performance.

I wish “POWER!” Stokely Carmichael did not have to matter like it does right now.

Running Time: 55 minutes with no intermission.

“POWER!” Stokely Carmichael plays through July 27, 2016 at Logan Fringe Arts Space: Trinidad Theatre – 1358 Florida Ave NE Washington, DC 20002. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online.

Check other reviews and show previews on DCMetroTheaterArts’ 2016 Capital Fringe Page

Read Alison French’s 5-star review of POWER! Stokely Carmichael from Capital Fringe 2015.