Those who have attended the Blacks in Wax performance by the Tennis Scholars of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center in previous years highly recommended viewing the 10th annual performance and suggested to plan ahead for next year’s play. The Blacks in Wax production was shown at two different venues, on Friday, March 18, at Frank W. Ballou High School and Sunday, March 20 at the John F. Kennedy Center in Northwest DC.
With free admission to the general public, Blacks in Wax transformed and disguised over 75 young actors and actress. Bringing “wax replicas” of powerful figures in Black History to life, dating back from the life of Egyptian queen Nefertiti to the modern boisterous Alicia Keys.
An audience member that has yet to miss any of the Blacks in wax performances, ANC Commissioner Sandra Seegars says she loved every moment, “This is great. Younger children definitely need to know what we went through. They even have a few new characters, like Alicia Keys.”
The 1 p.m. matinee showing allowed greater Washington area schools, including Hart Middle School to take a break from class and enjoy their peers in an educational, yet enlightening field trip to Frank W. Ballou High School in Southeast DC.
From Martin Luther King Jr.’s long-lasting legacy and triumphant speeches, a young Black male Heavin Jackson memorized many popular quotes by King reflecting the need for social consciousness and color blindness in America.
“We know from painful experiences we cannot wait on our oppressors; it must demanded by the oppressed,” said Jackson, impersonating Martin Luther King Jr.
In the months of preparation leading up to dynamic performance by the Tennis Scholars and the collaboration with WPA and Children of the Gospel Choir, playwright Shiba Freeman says she helps the children understand the characters.
“It really takes them a while to understand and become who the characters are. But we really try to make them understand the words, they have to look them up,” says Freeman.
Combining historical speeches, biographic information, and original scripting creating a non-=traditional way to inspire and instruct the youth about iconic figures during the civil rights movement and current activists of the Black Lives Matter movement shown in Blacks in Wax.
“It’s amazing. I was thinking, even we are passionate about our culture, we sometimes put this kind of stuff to the back of our minds so we don’t think about it,” said first time attendee Ricardo Hallums.
Richardo Hallums added he was shocked by what he heard and saw.
“I was enjoying the play thoroughly. But I was also enraged to the point where I wanted to cry thinking about what all we had to go through back then,” said Hallums.
Included in Blacks in Wax was a short piece about the life of former “mayor for life” Marion Barry Jr., an influential leader who dedicated his time to the civil rights movement. Creator of Blacks in Wax and widow of former D.C Mayor Barry, Cora Masters Barry said the play remains free of charge for a reason.
“We have voluntarily donations, but the play is free of charge because we want the whole community to come and bring their families,” added Barry.
The performance ended with a scene of all the children jumping and chanting rapper Kendrick Lamar’s hit song “Alright.”