By Jacob Malewitz
“A Voice of Good Hope” is a play being featured at Boarshead Theater based on the life of African-American politician Barbara Jordan, who recently died.
“Voice” was written by a white woman, artistic director Kristine Thatcher, which makes intriguing because it can be seen that Jordan’s life had an effect on more than just African-Americans.
The show plays on the stark reality of racism during the civil rights era to the more current racism.
Throughout the play, it is clear that Barbara Jordan was one of the most important politicians of the 20th century.
Jordan not only had a talent for making incredible speeches, many of which were spoken in the play, but she also changed the mindset that African-Americans and whites should be pushed apart.
Patricia Idlette, who has played in the hit TV shows “Dead Like Me” and “Battlestar Galactica,” plays Barbara Jordan incredibly well, and deserves recognition. Just memorizing countless speeches from Jordan’s life would have been hard for any actor to perform.
No play can cover a person’s life, sometimes events have to be summarized, but it is clear that, in “A Voice of Good Hope,” the audience gets a feeling for Barbara Jordan as a person more than just her life story.
The events range from Jordan’s early childhood learning the basics from her grandfather, to her times dealing with the problems most African American politicians faced, especially those elected from the deep south.
Spliced into “A Voice of Good Hope” are Jordan’s major speeches, including those she made at several Democratic conventions.
She was an intense person, had a talent for writing and speaking, and seemed to understand the plight of all Americans in that she acted upon what she knew was right instead of on personal feelings.
She wasn’t perfect in any fashion.
Sometimes she would side with white people over African American people, like when lending her support to a white person but not to an African American, as “Voice” recounts. She didn’t think being the same ethnicity as another person meant they should have the same views.
Jordan wasn’t afraid to play politics, but would never go against what she thoughts was right. She received respect from former president Bill Clinton, whose voice is heard commending her at the end of the play.
“ A Voice of Good Hope” is an important play; one that should be seen and remembered. It is far from a lecture on race relations.
Instead it documents a politician who wouldn’t always fall in line when she thought something was unjust.
As her grandfather told her, “You were an intense person, even newborn.”
She did not believe in blind faith in one’s country. Americans had to continuously keep politicians in line.
With all the respect that was given to her by playwright Kristine Thatcher, it wouldn’t be hard to say that this play deserves critical awards for both Thatcher’s writing and Idlette’s acting.