Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Passing Strange: a black American in Europe

Passing Strange is a musical which has stopped in 2008. It was an award winning musical on Broadway about a black American in Europe. Spike Lee filmed the last two production. The news is, he finished it recently and showed to a selected audience on Saturday May 2de.

But what's so special about a story about a middle class black American who travels to Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin in search of his identity and soon discovers he starts to play to the stereotypes he's trying to escape? The negro problem, according to director of the story.

It’s the experience of a black American in Europe what makes this play interesting. Since Amsterdam is yelled several times in the play,I was wondering – as a black Amsterdam native - what the director and star of the show had learned in Amsterdam. His name is ‘Stew’ by the way. Of course there are ‘Coffee shops’ in Amsterdam where you can buy Lebanon. But I don’t consider that a big deal. He also mentioned the experience of black American artist like Richard Wright, James Baldwin and Josephine baker, they are typical examples of black Americans expats in Europe. But the sad news is I didn’t found what Stew had really learned from his trip to Europe.

But in an interview he made some interesting remarks about what he called the black American expat myth. Like most black Americans he grew up with that myth. “The American expat myth was that you where accepted more as human being and maybe not as a race. Most of that was true. But the problem with the expatriate myth was that you had a lot of people who where going to Europe though that everything was going to be fine and great, but found out that racism is everywhere. And that are people who trying to put you in a box everywhere.“

But I think his statement is universal. Black Europeans are also being put in box when to go the USA. Oui, je suis de Hollande!




The interview with Stew about the play and his personal life.

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