Naima Dawson is a published author, Chicago playwright, and professor. Her career accomplishments cover more than 20 years in Arts Entertainment. Her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago and her Master of Education from DePaul University solidifies her ability to bridge the two worlds between Arts and Education. She is the writer and producer of Your Call! Late Night Improv & Sketch Comedy for Grown Folks, as seen in production at the Apollo Theater and The Mercury Theater.
Pictured: Jeffery Owen Freelon Jr. and Tiffany Oglesby. Photo by Evan Hanover.
By Naima Dawson
Silence shouldn’t be the norm or the first option when pain ravishes the spirit and soul of a person. All too often women who have lived through sexual assault have adapted to the norm — sitting in silence while living a life of pain and hurt. It is quite easy to feel isolated and alone within love, especially if you are being held captive by mental or physical trauma.
THE LIGHT, by Loy Webb, is a captivating love story that takes the audience on a hell of a roller coaster ride in 70 minutes. Rashad (Jeffery Owen Freelon Jr.) and Genesis (Tiffany Oglesby) are deeply in love. He a Chicago fireman, and she a Chicago principal, are preparing to celebrate their anniversary, on which Rashad plans to propose. However, in between gift exchanging and poetic words secrets begin to surface.
There are hard lessons learned from THE LIGHT, like one person’s trauma should not negate the validity of another person’s trauma, though they may appear different in nature. Genesis is fighting between being a strong Black woman and rendering herself free of fear. She wants to give herself permission to be vulnerable and show her weakness without the anxiety of judgment. So many women battle this dichotomy, especially Black women, who have been plagued with this burden of being strong and fierce for years. Often our fortitude and loyalty to our families and the men we love are interpreted as this almighty superpower, when it is really nothing more than our undying commitment to those who love us unconditionally.
THE LIGHT is designed to spark a much-needed conversation about men supporting women, even when there’s a learning curve in doing so. Sometimes in relationships, we fail to talk about our breaking points, and we forget that love is about growing together. It is also important that we not dismiss the pain that men encounter in their own lives. This play fights hard in the name of love.
There is a point in the play where we witness Rashad pour every ounce of his love into Genesis’ pain to help her see the sun she radiates. As said by Chicago’s own Common, on his track also entitled “The light”: “As my reflection in light I’ma lead you/ And whatever’s right I’ma feed you…” We need men to stand with us and change the narrative.
THE LIGHT left me paralyzed in thought by the end. Webb’s ability to snatch you inside each word rendered me deep inside a place I don’t often frequent. I was enthralled by Webb’s examination of a sensitive topic, often considered taboo between men and women in the most simplistic, yet deeply layered manner.
Director Toma Langston masterfully uses this confined stage space to convey this necessary message of love and fortitude. I’m in complete awe of how deep Freelon and Oglesby cement themselves into these characters in an effort to deliver a poignant punch of realism. Their performance rips through the small space with such passion as it propels its viewers into intense moments that are neatly tucked inside a fascinating love story.
This play is necessary and will change your perception of how we love each other. I believe everyone will find a common ground in THE LIGHT.
THE LIGHT runs through February 4th. For more information visit thenewcolony.org.