Sometimes you never absolutely know what’s happens behind closed doors. What people present is only their representative. We all have things that we hold on that we are fighting. Things that are or have been said, unforgiveness, pain, generational challenges, etc. that has helped to shape and mold us one way or another.
From Mud Row in East End of West Chester is a story of sisters fighting for their place. Elsie is consumed with stature and being in the elite class. It’s in the elite class that she will have redemption and make a way for her future daughter. Her sister Frances is willing to join those on the front line to freedom for Blacks. Her strong will to carve a better way by any means is her saving grace. These sisters bump heads on how they plan on serving the future of their family.
Fast forward and you have Regine who is well educated and some might even say through her education she has followed her Mother’s script to the T on becoming an elitist however don’t call her an elitist because she has worked hard to get where she is today! Enter Toshi who takes after her aunt Frances, she’s a fighter in a sense. She believes in taking things by force-even if that strong motivation has gotten her into a world of personal chaos and turmoil. She appears to be problematic because no one wants to acknowledge she may have areas to work out but instead of seeing past what her actions show she’s ignore and passed over.
Without spoiling what actually happens I will speak on what “Mud Row” spoke to me. In every family especially with siblings is this fight to be the chosen one. The one whom everyone calls on to be a success story. It can make for great sibling rivalry but then there’s also the sibling who doesn’t go down the “correct” path. The looking down on why aren’t you more “like” the other while never dealing with internal issues that may have placed them on the path they are on. No accountability into the pain that is almost birthed down to a child. The quiet fights within a person that they have no way of escaping.
I think about my own childhood home. The stories good and bad are within those walls. Every failure I have ever made is there. Every success is there. All the conversations and fights that built me up and tore me down are there. What happened when I moved? It may have stayed there but like most of us those issues travel to our next home along with us. Homes tell stories not of just how they were built but of the folks that lived within them. Why a person acts or reacts has a lot to do with their upbringing and what took place within the walls they called home. A house is but a home is a recurring theme and it will be challenged!
We are sometimes walking traumas. Even if the home you once knew is no longer there trust me in one way or another they are well alive in your life. How about the fact that at one time blacks couldn’t even own a home. The blood, sweat, and tears that many before us to keep their homes are then passed down to generations. Some think that selling those homes are a great idea. What about our great great grandparents and beyond who knew the value of what they owned due to the work it took to get it? How do we sell or keep these memories alive?
My own grandmother literally has been in her home my entire life. She worked her butt off to make sure my mother and aunt wound have a place of their own so they would never have to have someone control their living arrangements. “Mud Row” is a place of freedom where blacks weren’t able to own before. It’s one of the first developments of home ownership for African Americans. It’s important to have this play as genetrification is becoming more and more prevalent today!
Mud Row is an important story that highlights one family in their home that tells more than just ownership but redemption through turmoil. Both sets of sisters needing one another to be who they are and to heal. Is healing possible when you have been apart for so long? What about hearing and listening! Sometimes we hear or see what we want to believe without really ever hearing or seeing.
I highly recommend this play to be on the top of your go see. It is best suited for teenagers and up. There are briefly scenes of violence, cursing, and some scenes may be triggering for individuals who have any issues of familiar turmoil. I would say even if you are in a family turmoil it may be a great thing to watch to aid towards healing. There are scenes that will make some uncomfortable to watch as scenes of police brutality is touched as well. I watched the gasp from the audience. I felt tears in my eyes during many scenes. I felt the realness of pain when you’re trying you’re best but can’t get family members to see past the you they experienced of you. I felt the fear security of trying to be in a stable environment.
My best friends family is from West Chester. I’ve been several times there and didn’t know the history of East End or Mud Run! I enjoyed seeing this piece and you will too! Thank you People’s Light and Carrie Gorn for the invite. I walked away doing some soul searching of my own in how I can “build” better relationships with family. I walked away so profound I found myself speaking with a group of older women who spoke to me in a way I had only experienced with my great grandparents as a kid. That good conversation where you talk about the “good times” and the elders speak wisdom over you! When an elder speaks and it “stops” you in your tracks because you hear wisdom giving you the only answers that an elder can give!
You can see Mud Row until August 4th by purchasing tickets here! Peoples Light is located at 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern PA 19355!