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Pipeline

Don’t Miss Pipeline

African-American Shakespeare’s stunning production at Taube Atrium Theater

• • • • • • • March 21, 2024 • • • • • • •

Brilliantly nuanced, Dominique Morisseau's PIPELINE reveals the complexities of Black parenting in the inner city. This is not the Company Director L. Peter Callender’s first production of the play, and his sure hand shows it by mining every possible emotional subtlety, tension, and explosion from the gorgeously crafted script and his experienced ensemble.

Pipeline scene
From left: Atlantis Clay as Omari and Leontyne Mbele-Mbong as Nya in Pipeline; Image Joseph Giammarco

Leontyne Mbelle-Mbong leads the cast strongly as Nya, a teacher herself, who has removed her son, Omari (a fiery Atlantis Clay) out of the inner city public school after two suspensions, and has him now enrolled in Fernbrook, a private school far from home. When a third behavioral event happens, resulting in possible expulsion and criminal charges, Nya must face the decisions she and her ex-husband — Omari's demandingly distant father — Xavier (Bay Area treasure Michael Gene Sullivan) have made to ensure Omari's success.

quotes

While Jasmine wishes, “Every relationship should have the chance to go through all the colors of the rainbow,” teacher Laurie sees “this rage is his inheritance.” “Opportunities and education are incomplete...”

Throw into this mix the one Caucasian high school teacher Laurie (a stalwart Kelly Rinehart) who has dedicated her life to her students against all odds, Omari's girlfriend Jasmine (the quick-tongued Ije Success) who shares both his passion and pressure of being an only child, and Dun (a sharply observant Gary Moore) the overworked and underpaid school security officer, trying to protect his charges with far from adequate resources.

While Jasmine wishes, “Every relationship should have the chance to go through all the colors of the rainbow,” teacher Laurie sees “this rage is his inheritance.” “Opportunities and education are incomplete,” Nya realizes when “suspicion, and doubt follow him daily.” She begs the powers that be, “Don't lock away the hope he can become.”

Giulio C. Perrone's spare set supports the characters' complex emotional journeys while giving the audience the space to absorb the precise language MacArthur Fellowship recipient (The Genius Award) Morriseau has given them.

This masterpiece of contemporary theatre resonates with anyone who has been a mother, father, sister, brother, or friend of someone trying to deal with the rage that our society has yet to find space to express in a way that does less harm to our loved ones and who wishes to protect them from entering the Pipeline to incarceration.

PIPELINE continues through March 31, 2024. Tickets $12, $15, $40. Taube Atrium Theater, 401 Van Ness Avenue, SF. www.Aftrican-AmericanShakes.org or call City Box Office at (415) 392-4400.

Linda Ayres-Frederick, VP San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle

March 21, 2024

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