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Plan-B Theatre Company: The Third Crossing

You might fear the most blatant pedantry when you hear that a play is “about race”; you might be even more likely to suspect that fear is warranted when you see that the set includes an actual lectern and a chalkboard. But Debora Threedy’s world-premiere The Third Crossing turns those expectations upside-down in some genuinely compelling ways.

The narrative focuses largely on the historically controversial relationship between Thomas Jefferson (Bob Nelson, pictured right) and his slave Sally Hemings (Kalyn West, pictured left), with whom Jefferson fathered several children. Intertwined with the evolution of their relationship are several shorter explorations of the history of America’s struggles with interracial relationships, including the landmark Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision striking down anti-miscegenation laws.

What emerges from these stories is a much more complicated reading of what it means to be “black” or “white” than is suggested by Jefferson’s opening lecture, explaining the significance of the play’s title regarding the effect of diluting “black blood” across generations. From the different fates open to Hemings’ children based on whether or not they could “pass” to the improbable tale of twins with very different skin tones born to an interracial couple, Threedy unfolds the absurdity of attempting to define race in concrete ways that create dividing lines. Joined with a solid cast and a production by director Jerry Rapier that invites a bit of audience participation, the result is a work that reveals an essential shared humanity more starkly than white chalk on a blackboard. (Scott Renshaw)

Plan-B Theatre Company: The Third Crossing @ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. Broadway, 801-355-2787, through March 18, $10 students, $20 general admission.,

Date: Mar 16, 2012
Phone: 801-355-2787
Address: 138 W. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 84101
Where: Rose Wagner Center