Lambs to Slaughter at the Cherry Lane Theatre

Lambs to Slaughter a testimony to grief.
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Photo by Tanja Hayes

The play “Lambs to Slaughter” is presented by the Negro Ensemble Company. It is acted in and written by Khalil Kain under the directorship of Reginald L. Douglas. The play runs until July 3, 2022 at the Cherry Lane Theatre, located at 38 Commerce Street, NYC.

The live music under the directorship of Keith Johnson and performed by Pat Patrick on drums, Will Boulware on Piano and Antonio McLendon on Bass as well as the rap done by the characters Paul and Emmet, punctuates the show and sets the background mood for this drama via poetry, laughter, pain and tears. Although the play is set in Harlem in the year 2018, its subject matter can be found throughout America in any place at any time. “Lambs to Slaughter” is indicative of the plight of people of color. It too often highlights what happens in the African American community where life is not always valued. Definitely not valued by the police and occasionally not by the youth in the community who kill one another over city blocks, shoes, colors and gang-banging. In fact, life expectancy among the communities of color is very low. So much so, mothers fear whenever their children leave home. In some neighborhoods drive by shootings can even kill residents in their homes.

The public reads about these incidents in the newspapers but rarely see the aftermath. Rarely notice how it affects the families of the slain individuals. The depression, bitterness, pain and rage these deaths cause when families are left without their mothers, wives, husbands, fathers and children. Especially when it goes down in a police blotter as just another casualty in a minority neighborhood and soon forgotten by the authorities. That is why Black Lives Matter has become a necessity to remind the world that these lives do matter.

Lambs to Slaughter” depicts the suffering of a mother Joan (played by Adiagha Faizah) who is so affected by the death of her older son, Lonnie, that her entire life is immersed in her heartbreak demonstrated through her anger, fear and depression. So deep is her pain it overshadows the lives of her family and friends. Her home becomes unbearable where joy is stamped out and her younger son Emmet (portrayed by Terayle Hill) is forced to swallow the darkness of his mother's refusal to get on with her life a year or so after his brother and her older son's death. Even when Paul (Khalil Kain) an ex-con, neighbor and potential boyfriend and her upstairs friend and neighbor Athena (Shaquila Gooden), try their best to get Joan out from under her funk Joan rejects them. Paul offers Joan love and security and a new life; a way to see beyond the blinders of her sadness by choosing to live. Athena and Paul try to get Joan to open her eyes to see how her loss of her older son is causing her to lose her younger son. Joan is so busy wallowing in her own misery she does not see the pain in her son, Emmet. She cannot see love shines the light that offers her the way back.

I suppose the playwright is attempting to tell us all that by dwelling in the darkness, in anger and in pain we forget we can change these emotions by making choices that allow for love and sharing that love with our community in order to to see ourselves in a new light. Not the light the oppressors shine but a self-love where we don't see ourselves as victims but instead winners. By willing to see ourselves as a great ancient civilization. A people who were created as the original people, the artists, educators, builders, craftsmen and so much more. A great deal more than focusing on our history of slavery. Slavery is only a small part of what we were but not who we are as a people.

Lambs to Slaughter" runs until July 3rd. The remaining days are Friday, June 24th at 8pm, Saturday, June 25th and Sunday, June 26th at 2:00 and 8:00 pm and Thursday, June 30th, 8pm and July 3 at 8pm.

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