You should go see New Horizon Theater's production of Jeff Stetson's The Meeting. The show, directed by Eileen J. Morris, depicts an imagined encounter between Martin Luther King Jr. (played by Michael Green) and Malcolm X (Art Terry). It is a good script, realized by good actors, bearing more relevance today than ever. You'll forgive the simplicity of my review — the show is staged at an elementary school, and I'm flashing back to my second-grade days.
I say this not to compare the show to a school production — actually, it's pretty neat to see the lights go up in a school auditorium and watch television-caliber actors step forward. No, I simply want to remind you that Kuntu Repertory closed; last year the August Wilson Center nearly followed suit; and New Horizons recently had to stage a musical with MIDI instrumentation, of all the humiliations. Black-owned art in this city is struggling, and in a city with an important history of black writers and artists, that's a travesty. Even if this show sucked, I'd be yelling at you to go to it, because we have fallen shamefully far from the heyday of the Pittsburgh Courier.
Fortunately, the show doesn't suck — and you should see it because you'll enjoy it.
If watching Selma in theaters lit a fire in you to learn more about King, The Meeting (first staged in 1987) is a superlative next step, expanding on King's perspective and contrasting him with his contemporary, Malcolm X, whose life and work tend to be glossed over in the schools. Perhaps because of this, the show centers on Malcolm — providing him with a bodyguard character (Jonathan Berry) to help flesh out his less-told story. Even the lighting follow his movements, rather than King's.
I appreciated that the production took both Malcolm's and King's philosophies seriously. Praising the script as fair and not preachy sounds milquetoasty, but at a time when everybody wants to misappropriate King's ideals, it was extremely heartening.
The Meeting has the good sense not to drown in gravitas — there is laughter and tension in equal turn — and it raises many questions worth thinking about, especially today. I give it my strongest recommendation.