The HBO drama The Wire drew fierce protest from Baltimore residents and community leaders for its haunting depiction of the city’s massive drug trade and violence. Many critics felt the hit show perpetuated stereotypes and caused a false perception to be formed in the national spotlight. Well this time the ills of Baltimore were examined a little differently.
South Carolinian transplant Rosiland Cauthen, who penned Sister, Mother, Warrior, Daughter, Queen, a play dealing with issues affecting African-American women, has returned with We Are Crying Out, a play inspired by Baltimore’s stifling homicide rate of 2009. Produced by the Kuumba Collection, a performance arts troupe, and written and directed by Cauthen, We Are Crying Out tells a story of how violence cripples the city.
In a full house at the Baltimore Theatre Project, a diverse audience was introduced to Gladys (Jennifer D. Eddington), a traumatized mother who has lost her son Dee after he is gunned down outside her home. The ripple effect proves to be overwhelming for his pregnant girlfriend Neisha (Qituwra Anderson) and his best friend Twan (Thaddeus Street). When the pain proves to be too great Twan wants revenge. In the final scene, Twan appears at Dee’s funeral holding a gun to the killer’s head. Confusion fills Twan’s mind as family and friends plea for him to spare the life of his helpless captive.
We Are Crying Out is comprised of talented young actors that stir the emotions of the audience. However the scattered storyline was a little difficult to follow at times. Poet Nathan Couser saved moments such as this with spoken word monologues that explained what is taking place. References of Club Music and Mondawnmin, along with familiar Baltimore personas and lingo, gave the play authenticity. The panel discussion held afterwards allowed the audience to share praises of the performance. Panelists that included representatives of The Algebra Project, Hand In Hand and Maryland Shock Trauma Center’s P.H.A.T Program listened on as the audience weighed in on issues such as youth mentoring, violence and grieving. It was a dialogue that hopefully brought a little silence to the cries and offered some much needed healing.