White People

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Vol: 5, Issue: 1, Page: 108

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LeClair, Kathryn
Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory; racism; J.T. Rogers
artifact description
J.T. Rogers has carefully constructed his play, White People, to concentrate on the issue of communications between races, to talk to the audience, and to address them in order to make them understand their own shortcomings in approaching the topic of race. Both Alan and Martin, two of the three main characters in this play, have difficulty with the ways in which they communicate their feelings about race and their positions as white middle class men. They argue with themselves about how to communicate while externally showing the audience the struggle between what they both believe to be morally right and wrong. Martin may be an extreme; how much of what he says does he actually mean? He is a hypocrite because what he says and what he actually does are not the same. Alan tries to sympathize with different races; he wants to reach the multitude to explain how we should handle bad situations, but he comes up short and seems helpless in the face of the large number of people whom he has to reach. Both of these situations apply to the audience’s concept of how much they should be trying to communicate their views on race in the real world. Rogers’ characters confront the white audience and force them to look at their own flaws in their treatment of racism.