Can I Get a Witness? OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Sara Krulwich
  • NY TIMES

  • Opening Night:
    December 7, 2016
    Closing:
    December 11, 2016

    Theater: Harlem Stage / 150 Convent Avenue (at West 135th Street), New York, NY 10031

    Synopsis: 

    Can I Get a Witness is a multidisciplinary theatrical work inspired by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and the following Baldwin quote: "From my point of view, no label, no slogan, no party, no skin color, and indeed no religion is more important than the human being.” Theatrically structured as an African-American church service, the work features sermons and original musical compositions that challenges audiences to engage in critical investigations on race, religion, sexual orientation, America and the status quo, while celebrating Baldwin’s ideas through music and visual imagery.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Can I Get a Witness?

    ‘Can I Get a Witness?’ Takes James Baldwin’s Message to Church

    Charles Isherwood

    December 11, 2016: A fierce tide of feeling — rage and despair, love and hope and exaltation — courses through “Can I Get a Witness?,” an almost indefinable work of music theater created by the performer and musician Meshell Ndegeocello, and inspired by “The Fire Next Time,” James Baldwin’s incisive polemic about race in America, first published in 1963. Produced by Harlem Stage, where it runs through Sunday, the performance is subtitled “The Gospel of James Baldwin,” and indeed it mimics the format of a religious service. Some audience members sit in pews, and we are each given the “order of service.” A few performers wear costumes, inventively designed by Abigail DeVille, that look vaguely ecclesiastical — but with flashes of color and brocade and even gaudy jewels. Ms. Ndegeocello, who plays bass and presides loosely over the proceedings, wears a priestly robe of silver and blue. Several segments incorporate call-and-response; there’s even a moment when we are given small glasses of water to drink, although there’s no suggestion that it’s particularly holy.

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