A scene from “The Conductor: A Living Newspaper” with (l-r) Brian Anthony Simmons, Kenya Wilson, and Monisha Shiva (Tennessee Reed photo)

“The Conductor: A Living Newspaper” by Ishmael Reed recently opened at Theater for the New City (155 1st Avenue in Manhattan). This drama talks about the targeting of minority groups in this country by white racists. While Blacks are always targeted, the racist white establishment will at times pick other groups and deem them a danger as well, after which those groups can quickly become victims of violence, have their businesses shut down, and be made to feel so endangered that they leave the country as quickly as they can. In this play, the folks targeted are people from India.

In the play, a white racist TV network constantly spews lies, ignorance, and hatred about people from India being dangerous, and this leads to even Indian-Americans, born and raised in the United States and educated at elite universities, feeling the need to flee and move to India for safety. It is considered a crime to help Indian people leave the country, and things are so bad that Warren, a Black journalist, becomes a conductor in a modern-day equivalent of the Underground Railroad. 

Warren winds up housing Indians as a link in an underground network to get them to Canada and ultimately to India. He takes in a young person named Shashi and they constantly butt heads about racist, historical, and political points regarding Blacks, Indians, and Asians in this country. This includes who are the public figures and school board figures that are going after the right things for minority children.

Warren has a great deal of information to share, both historical and present-day, about the betrayal Black people in this country have endured at the hands of other minority groups who came to them for help when white racists put them on the radar. But once the spotlight was off them, these same minority groups, such as Asians and Indians, sought acceptance by the racist whites. 

This play also goes deeply into the discriminatory caste culture in India. There are a great many eye-opening moments of facts shared that will cause you to ponder.

The cast delivers stirring performances and includes Brian Anthony Simmons, Monisha Shiva, Sri Chilukuri, Kenya Wilson, Laura Robards, and Emil Guillermo. Carla Blank provides interesting direction. 

The play will run through September 10, 2023. For tickets, call 212-254-1109 or visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net.

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