W.E.B. DU BOIS: A MAN FOR ALL TIMES
“A Man for All Times: W. E. B. DuBois” at 59E59 Theater C, 2012
“A Man for All Times: W. E. B. DuBois”
In 1951, just eight days before his eighty-third birthday, W. E. B. DuBois is charged with being a foreign agent. Disheartened and discouraged at America’s unwillingness to seek paths of peace instead of war, DuBois thunders, “Wake up America! Your liberties are being stolen before your very eyes. Wake up Americans, and dare to think and say and do; dare to cry no more war!” Brian Richardson’s electrifying portrayal of William Edward Berghardt DuBois, here and throughout his performance, is a privilege to experience. Richardson is able to tell DuBois’ story with conviction and style. He understands who DuBois was, how he spoke, how he moved, how he used every rhetorical device to persuade his listeners of the importance of social justice.
DuBois struggled with the “line of color” throughout his life in the United States. This “Veil” never lifted for him and he became an expatriate spending his last years in Accra, Ghana where he died on August 27, 1963. After his death his wife Shirley read the epilogue DuBois wrote on June 26, 1957. Embodying DuBois with perfection, Richardson lists those things for which DuBois lived his passion-filled life:
“My Birthday is a national holiday on Mainland China, my homeland knows me not. At the ripe age of 98, I can honestly say that I have dedicated my life to the following goals: Abolition of poverty, No exploitation of labor, free medical care for all, free education for all, job training, and jobs for all, and no dogmatic religion.”
As Brian Richardson shares this touching epilogue, he is stooped, holding a cane, a completely different DuBois than he was at 16, 29, or 39. This brilliant actor knows, as he delivers these lines, what is going through the minds of every member of the audience: America has yet to wake up, yet to dare to think or say or do, yet to dare to cry no more war. There are far too many Americans living below the poverty line. Governors across the United States are doing all they can to bust unions and reverse all advances made by labor. There is not only no free medical care for all in America; there is no medical care for all at an affordable rate. We still have no idea how to properly educate our children in the United States; our drop-out rates from high schools are alarming and far too many good teachers are retiring to avoid the bureaucratic abuse from local and federal governments. Our unemployment rates skyrocket and we seem on the brink of financial disaster. Finally, we consistently allow dogmatic religion to interfere with the legislative process. The Roman Catholic Church is doing all it can, spend all it can, lobby all it can to prevent Equal Marriage from becoming law.
What would DuBois say if he were alive today? The same thing he said at the close of his epilogue: “These [goals] are not crimes. Without them to nation can be free. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” This nation is not really free and we seem to prefer our chains to our true freedom. Hopefully, the legacy of DuBois can reawaken us to the passion we need to overcome.
Alexa Kelly’s well-written script is compelling. But it is Brian Richardson’s understanding of rhetoric that moves the script to dazzling success.
A MAN FOR ALL TIMES: W. E. B. DUBOIS
The final performances of “A Man for All Times: W. E. B. DuBois” are on Tuesday July 24 at 7:00 p.m. and Wednesday July 25 at 7:00 p.m. at 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues).
Tickets to each EAST TO EDINBURGH can be purchased by calling Ticket Central at 212-279-4200 or online at www.59e59.org. August 2012
DONATIONS greatly appreciated!
August, 2013, 17 performances at the V & A, in London
April 2013, we took A MAN FOR ALL TIMES: W.E.B. DU BOIS on tour to Holland.
We performed in 3 different venues: a 14th Century Castle: Wittenberg Castle; a state of the arts theatre: the Korzo in the Hague; and a 15th Century Church in Kortenhoef. It was quite a wonderful experience, sold out houses in all 3 places. Thanks to Herman van Karnebeek, PJ Noordhoek Hegt, and Caroline Noordhoek Hegt and their respective spouses, what seemed to be months and months of e-mail planning, came to fruition, and in a whirlwind of activity and motion, the tour was happening, and then over.
Standing ovations for Brian Richardson at every show. The show was a huge success: “A very wonderful play about an excellent and dedicated man. He deserves to be remembered.” said Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.
Please support us with this project, please donate on the link above.
The following is excerpted from the chapter “Of Our Spiritual Strivings” in Du Bois’ book The Souls of Black Folk. On Double Consciousness:
“After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,–a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness,–an American, a Negro; two warring souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,–this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self.” …
CHRONOLOGY OF W.E.B. DU BOIS:
1868-Born, Great Barrington, Massachusetts
1884-Graduated from school
1885-Went to Fisk University, Tennessee
1888-Enrolled at Harvard
1890-Graduated from Harvard
1892-Went to Germany to study at the University of Berlin
1894-Returned from Germany
1896-Received PhD from Harvard
1896-Wrote THE PHILADELPHIA NEGRO
1896-Married Nina Gomer
1897-His son, Berghardt is born
1905-Wrote THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK
1905-Formed the Niagara Movement
1907-Resigned academia, became full time Civil Rights Activist
1909-Co-founded the NAACP
1910-Director of Research and Publication for the NAACP
1911-Attended World Race Congress, London
1919-Founded Pan African Congress in Paris
1921-Founded Pan African Congress in London
1923-Founded Pan African Congress in Brussels
1928-Made Special Consultant for Liberia
1945-Special Consultant, founding meeting of the United Nations
1948-Final resignation from NAACP
1951-Runs for Senator of New York
1951-Marries Shirley Graham
1954-Public school segregation declared unconstitutional
1958-Awarded Lenin Peace Prize
1961-Moves to Ghana
1963-Dies in Accra, Ghana
THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK (1903), by W.E.B. Du Bois, Bartleby.com
W.E.B. DU BOIS (1868 – 1919), Biography of a Race, by David Levering Lewis (Owl Books)
W.E.B. DU BOIS (1919 – 1963) The Fight for Equality and the American Century, by David Levering Lewis (Owl Books) Henry Holt & Company
W.E.B.DUBOIS.org by Robert Williams
and many more…
See more on W.E.B. DU BOIS through the links above!