A Shot Rang Out Review by Jen Bush
I have a black friend. In fact, I have many friends of diverse ethnicities and sexual orientations. When I was learning to ride a bicycle, this one particular friend held on tight to the back of it so that I wouldn’t fall. We played together and our families socialized on a regular basis. He enjoys a successful career as an elementary school teacher and we are still friends to this day. Sadly, in many cases, if a black boy approached a white girl on a bicycle and held the back of it, I don’t have to spell out the rest of the scenario for you. An assumption might be made. Assumptions is a germane word here. The police officer in A Shot Rang Out held many assumptions about boys of color to the detriment of his moral and ethical obligation to serve and protect ALL in his community.
A Shot Rang Out takes place in a warehouse. While a violent protest is happening outside, a police officer is trapped in the warehouse with a young black man and an angry white teacher. The young black man was simply trying to stay alive and seek safety from the escalating protest. The police officer assumes that he is a thug and acts accordingly attempting to arrest him. The word thug is thrown around a lot in this play to emphasize the perception of people of color. The teacher enters the warehouse, surveys the scene and tries to protect the boy. She is angry that so many innocent lives are being taken. The situation spirals out of control and the lives of all three characters are changed irrevocably.
This contemporaneous commentary on social injustice and the abuse of authority in law enforcement will bring to the surface a whole host of emotions from audience members. FYI, the feelings won’t be warm and fuzzy. You will be saddened and enraged which is the desired result of seeing this play. For a nation that has made so much progress in so many areas, the continued divisiveness is confounding. This production highlights a racially motivated epidemic problem in the current state of law enforcement nationwide.
Michael Hagins is an African American playwright, director, fight director, actor and producer. He used to write more lighthearted plays, but societal ills have caused this talented playwright to take his work in another direction. This play was inspired by the real-life incident in Ferguson, Missouri when a white police officer killed a young black man. His brilliant script demonstrates that he has his finger on the pulse of contemporary issues plaguing society. He is a voice of social injustice. This play is raw, emotionally charged, and necessary. Mr. Hagins is using his artform as a platform to educate and draw attention to a problem that needs to change.
The actors that were cast all shined in their roles. Marquis Neal played Terrell Brown who sought refuge from the protest. This passionate performer has been connecting with audiences since the tender age of eight. He crafted a convincing and compelling portrayal of an innocent young person just trying to survive among the dangerous chaotic situation outside. Another early starter, Samantha Simone has been in the industry since the age of 10 and her professionalism shows. Her interpretation of a frustrated and compassionate teacher was riveting. It was smart of the casting director to put James Smart in the role of Officer Randy Kilmer. He knocked it out of the park and evoked a lot of emotional responses as he acted his way through difficult subject matter. Intuitive direction by Rachael Langton was the cherry on top of this production. Well done all around.