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‘White’ Play Explores The Intersection Of Art And Identity

Monét Noelle Marshall and Jordan Clifton on stage and in character
Alex Maness

What happens when a white male artist hires a black actress to stand in for him so he can get into a show for diverse artists? That is the question at the center of the comedic play “White.”

It traces the story of a white painter named Gus who hires an actress named Vanessa to act as his proxy. The play is based on a true incident at the Whitney Biennial in 2014 and addresses cultural voyeurism and appropriation. Director JaMeeka Holloway-Burrell said she saw “White” as an extension of the conversation around race and the arts in the Triangle.

Host Frank Stasio talks to Holloway-Burrell and “White” co-star Monét Noelle Marshall about the intersection of art and identity, and their hopes for the conversations this play will spark in the local arts scene. Holloway-Burrell is a freelance director and the artistic director of Black Ops, a theatre company she founded in Durham. She is also the founder and artistic director of the Bull City Black Theatre Festival. Marshall is a Durham-based artist, director, producer and creative consultant. She is also the founding artist and director of Mojoaa Performing Arts Company.

“White” will be at the Durham Fruit and Produce Co. from Thursday, May 23 to Sunday, June 9.

Amanda Magnus is the executive producer of Embodied, a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships and health. She has also worked on other WUNC shows including Tested and CREEP.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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