Why You Can't Skip Regina Taylor's "stop. reset."

Last Monday, Regina Taylor's new play "stop.reset" officially opened at Goodman Theatre. On the surface, the play appears to be loosely based on the late John H. Johnson--who founded Ebony Magazine. However, a deeper look at the play shows that the story is relevant to all businesses trying to keep up with in the constantly evolving Digital Age.

Inspired by Taylor's creativity, I have decided to abandon the typical play review and share my "random thoughts" instead.

The Set Brings The Audience Inside The Story
* The theater in the rounds approach works masterfully for this kind of story. As an audience member, I felt like a "fly on the wall" who got to experience things that the actors themselves could not see. 
(Kudos to set designer Riccardo Hernandez for using the theater's space in a refreshing way.) 

Eric Lynch (Chris), Tim Decker (Tim), Jacqueline Williams (Jan), Lisa Tejero (Deb) {Courtesy of Goodman Theatre}

The Diverse Cast Is Not A Gimmick But Integral To The Story
*Every cast member plays an important role in the story-- not just for the sake for affirmative action. However, I feel that the female characters were overshadowed by the male characters. Eric Lynch (Chris) made his Goodman debut last year with Buzzer and he has tremendously improved as an actor. (Last year, I was worried about him. This year, I feel confident that he's going to win Tony Awards one day.) 

The N-Word Stands For Nuisance
As a creative writer myself, I never want to scold other artists for how they tell stories. However, I am writing this blog as a critic and audience member so I hope Ms. Taylor reads the next few sentences carefully. It's okay to use racial slurs in creative writing IF and ONLY IF those words demonstrate the weaknesses of a character. Even at that, those words should be used sparingly. When writers use the N-Word profusely (especially in a diverse setting), the word becomes an obstruction for understanding instead of a point of disagreement. 

We have Tom Hanks' son, Chet Haze, feeling that it's alright to use "n*gga" in his lyrics because of the same reasoning above. No racial group OWNS any word but it's up to all of us to find ways to express ourselves without making our patrons uncomfortable and annoyed. 
J (Edgar Sanchez) and Alex Ames (Eugene Lee) share a moment.

J's Character Is Too Weird For This Setting

If you haven't seen the play, please don't let my opinion stop you. If you're a Columbia College student, you are going to love J's character. He's androgynous and a bit homeless looking (no offense). But he has some powerful words to share-- if you can get past the way he shares those words.

J (played by Edgar Sanchez) is the perfect contrast for Mr. Alex Ames (played by veteran Eugene Lee). They develop a father-son connection on stage which quickly moves from awkward to endearing.

That's all I have without spoiling the plot. Enjoy!

Click here for ticket information.

(If you want to interact more with the play, visit the stop. reset. blog. ) 
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About Zack Raspberry

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