Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Passing Strange": Spike Lee captures the musical

Last night (Jan 13) PBS WETA aired a “Spike Lee Joint” from his “40 Acres and a Mule” company (along with Apple Core Holdings), a taping of the Broadway musical “Passing Strange”, book and lyrics by Mark Stewart, music by “Stew” and Heidi Rodewald. The work opened officially at the Belasco Theater on Broadway in Feb. 2008. Lee’s “film” was actually shown at Sundance in 2009.

Daniel Breaker plays a young African American man who leaves his family in South Carolina, for adventures in Europe, especially Amsterdam (“a party”) and Berlin.

The mother (Elisa Davis) resents his turning his back on emotional loyalty to his own family. He says he wants to choose his own path in life and “be himself”. She says “family doesn’t work that way.” But the Youth wants a life defined on his own terms, not those of his biological family. He wants to be a citizen of the world and gain some recognition from it. But his mother says she wants “to be loved”, not just to accomplish things. This particular interchange occurs near the end and seems to lay out the heart of our culture wars.

The musical would seem to make emotional makeup and sexual orientation as immutable properties that help make someone who he is. Race is another matter.

Here is the website from Sundance Selects for “the movie”

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