Pop theater quiz: Name a play that ties together romance, politics and the Black experience in America.
If “What I Learned in Paris” first came to mind, you get a gold star.
Pearl Cleage’s 2012 play, receiving a new production opening this weekend at South Coast Repertory, is a romantic comedy that revolves around Black folks enmeshed in politics and the civil rights movement in the Deep South circa 1973.
And, by luck if not by design, the play arrives during Black History Month and in a month that also encompasses Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day – ideal for a play that sets romance against a backdrop of politics and the achievements of African Americans.
Further resonating with the play’s examination of Black Americans during a vital period in American history, and celebrating Black History Month all the more, is the fact that Cleage is one of the greatest contemporary Black American playwrights, and that Lou Bellamy, the director of SCR’s Segerstrom Stage production is, like Cleage, a prominent, celebrated Black American of the theater world.