The best way to experience the Guthrie’s latest entry in its Level Nine Series at the Dowling Studio is to know as little as possible about what will happen once you step through the door. We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Südwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915, or simply “We Are Proud to Present” is a play about six people trying to put together a presentation about colonialism in Africa in the 19th and 20th Centuries. At least, that’s where it starts before it launches into an incredibly profound, provocative, masterful exploration of race, gender, culture, and history in America. We Are Proud to Present tackles challenging topics with both humor and heart-pounding gravity in a way that pushes the boundaries of theater and dramatic performance.
The actors each deliver riveting performances far surpass those of even the most seasoned cast members in the Shakespearean tragedy taking place just a few floors below. Having seen the Guthrie’s King Lear just a few days ago, I couldn’t help but compare the two productions, however vast their differences in scale and scope. Maybe it’s the intimacy of the small space, or the timeliness of the subject matter, but I felt more deeply connected to what was happening on stage in We Are Proud to Present than I ever did with Lear, despite my far greater familiarity with that material. This speaks, not only to the talent of the performers, but also to the director and production team, as well as the masterful script by the up-and-coming playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury.
The play runs approximately 105 minutes, but plan to stick around for the community discussion offered after the conclusion. Tickets are only $9 for general admission seating. I cannot think of a show that I could more strongly recommend than this one, but you have to act quickly because We Are Proud to Present ends its run on March 12.
Photo by Dan Norman