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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

The Niceties

Manhattan Theatre Club / New York / Stage

Set in the months before the 2016 election, this provocative “debate play” takes office hours as its arena. Zoe, a Black college student, is seeking feedback on a paper from her history professor, Janine, a white woman of the baby boom generation. The paper’s thesis argues that “A successful American Revolution was only possible because of the existence of slavery.” Janine dismisses the thesis as “fundamentally unsound.” The ensuing conversation points up the divides that continue to ripple across campuses and beyond. On the one hand, Janine believes in American democracy, and reveres its history; on the other, Zoe sees a nation built by slaves, and founded by white men with little regard for Black lives. How did two progressive women find themselves so at odds? And can the conflict be resolved? The Niceties debuted to acclaim in 2018, and this virtual premiere reunites its original cast and director, but reimagines its script for the pandemic era, with Skype the new battleground. —C.J.F.

Manhattan Theatre Club 131 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019, USA
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