From The Grio — Saviour? a new play by award winning journalist and playwright Esther Armah tackles the hot button issue of race and white privilege in the Obama era. Thrown in the mix are a little sex and betrayal which make for one riveting show sure to spark many interesting post performance conversations.
The story is centered on a white liberal anti-racism activist, Bill Hall (Jimmy Aquino) who is suing his former nonprofit for discrimination after a black woman is promoted to CEO over him. His aggressive bulldog of an ambitious African-American attorney Michael Jamal Willams III(Michael Green) is trying to formulate the strongest case so that Hall wins the case and Williams advances in his own career. For both men the case is a must win situation.
The issue of white privilege and well-meaning white liberalism is the centerpiece of the show. In his Brooklyn office, Hall and Williams speak candidly about whether Billy Hall had an expectation of getting the promotion to CEO at his nonprofit because of an inherent sense of entitlement.
While Hall’s anti-racist work allows him to claim he has no “issues” with race it becomes clear as the plot develops that it may not be so simple. The Tea Party isn’t the only segment of American society where issues of racial inequality and animus exist.
In the play, Hall maintains that he earned the promotion at his nonprofit and that his entitlement to this position is based on merits only. Hall says, “leadership is not about black or white, it’s about qualifications.”
When challenged directly by his African-American attorney Hall becomes increasingly defensive, adamant that white privilege is simply not something that applies to him.
Hall is a liberal anti-racism activist who is well respected in his community and his high profile position has garnered him a lot of lucrative speaking engagements and book deals.