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5 questions: Keith Hamilton Cobb

Steve Duffy
5 questions: Keith Hamilton Cobb
Keith Hamilton Cobb

Shakespeare, race and America — not necessarily in that order — are explored as AUDELCO award-winning “American Moor” takes the stage at the Boston Center for the Arts’ Plaza Theatre this summer for a four-week engagement.

The 85-minute solo play, written and performed by Keith Hamilton Cobb, “American Moor” examines the experience and perspective of black men in America through the metaphor of William Shakespeare’s character, Othello.

On the Web

“American Moor” plays July 19 through Aug. 12 at The Plaza Theatre — Boston Center for the Arts. Tickets begin at $35, with discounts available for students and seniors. They can be purchased at www.bostontheatre…, at the Boston Center for the Arts box office (539 Tremont St., Boston, MA), or by phone at 617-933-6600.

Why is the play called “American Moor”?

Keith Hamilton Cobb: It is a riff on Shakespeare’s play “Othello.” Moor is a person who was not white. In our country and American culture, there is a need to have someone to point at. Someone who is not better than us, to say is the root of the problem. Basically using them as a scapegoat. This issue is not just happening in the black community, but crosses all lines of gender, sexuality and color.

What are the advantages and limitations of doing a one-man show?

KHC: The advantage is that it is a one-man show and I only have to deal with myself. The limitations are that it is a one-man show. I have to do all the work, so it can be emotionally draining — no place to go, to hide or to catch my breath.

What will it take to finally end racism in America?

KHC: I would love to give you a hopeful answer, but it’s difficult. It ends when we just evolve out of it. It ends when other things become more important to us. I believe we will reach a point in our history when it will finally happen. Until then, we should continue to stand up for what is right and have the tough conversations needed to help facilitate change.

What is your deepest desire for the world?

KHC: If I could have a superpower, it would be the power of healing. I fear for this world. It is horribly broken. I would love to fix America. We can’t build a great culture on something that is broken. We need to have more honest conversation in order to make this a better place to live. We are injured. There are no survivors in the creation of America. Instead of growing, we hide. We all need to continue to ask ourselves, “How can I love, care, or embrace each other better?”

What is the message with which you are hoping the audience will leave the show?

KHC: What I give them is this play, what they take away is up to them. I want them to walk away thinking, “This is what I learned. What am I going to change or what am I going to do?” Make it their own story by what they have experienced in life. To generate a discussion and see it through the lens of your own experience and the experiences of others.

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