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Race Relations in Black and White: 'Trouble in Mind' at the Aurora Theatre

In the days of constantly streaming Twitter and Facebook, it’s amazing anything stays relevant for a month, much less decades. But Trouble in Mind by Alice Childress - the first African-American woman to win an Obie award - remains an insightful exploration of racial inequality, even half a century later.

Written during the Civil Rights movement, this play-within-a-play follows a cast of black and white actors mounting a script about anti-lynching (by a white dude, naturally) on Broadway, a premise which opens the proverbial stage door to all manner of cultural side-stepping and socially mandated diffidence. Early in the play, an older black actor advises a younger one to “Laugh, laugh at everything they say.” Where “they” are white people in general, and white theater people in particular.

An East Bay gem, Aurora Theatre is worth checking out - especially this show, which has been hailed by local critics as awesome. (That’s a paraphrase, by the way.) Deftly funny and emotionally compelling, Trouble in Mind navigates the unsettling inequity of the time, in a way that still rings true. Which is rather frightening if you think about it.

 

Through October 3. 2081 Addison Street, Berkeley. Tickets are $10-45. (510) 843-4822 or auroratheatre.org.