Archives for February 2022

Redbone Coonhound: FIRE! (and misfires)

playwright photos: Redbone Coonhound

Playwrights Amy Lee Lavoie and Omari Newton

Written by married couple Omari Newton and Amy Lee Lavoie, Redbone Coonhound isn’t always subtle or precisely focused, but it’s got force!

It’s about Michael, who’s married to Marissa. As in the Newton/Lavoie marriage, he’s Black, she’s white, and they live in Vancouver’s West End. The story gets triggered when Michael and Marissa meet a Seattle couple who are jogging on the seawall with their dog, which is a Redbone Coonhound, an American breed used for hunting racoons and other large game.

Michael is incensed by the casual use of the breed’s name, which, in his view, contains two racial slurs. The term “redbone” can refer to light- or reddish-skinned people who are a mix of Black and other races. When used by Black people, “coon” refers to other Black folks who may suffer from racial self-hatred. It can be used to insult Black men who only date white women, for instance.

The central storyline in Redbone Coonhound concerns Michael, Marissa, and their friends in present-day Vancouver but, with the help of a narrator (artfully voiced by Tom Pickett in the Arts Club’s audio presentation), it leaps into fantastical dimensions that exist in the space “between white fragility and Black fatigue”. When the Coonhound chases Michael into Stanley Park, for instance, he transforms into his great-great-grandfather, who’s trying to escape the American South and get to Canada via the underground railroad in 1840.

I’m a white guy: keep that in mind as I try to articulate my response. [Read more…]

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