Inspired by Mel Watkins’ book, “On The Real Side: From Slavery to Chris Rock”, Spike Lee’s controversial movie, “Bamboozled”, and Dave Chappelle's "dance vs. shuffling" analogy, this evening- length dance theater work celebrates African- American humor, examines "the mask" of survival and the "double consciousness" (W.E.B. DuBois) of the Black performer throughout history, and examines stereotypical roles dominating current popular Black culture. Through comedy, animation, theater, soul- stirring live music by Scott Patterson (with original compositions from Jonathan Melville Pratt, Brandon McCune, Kurt "KC" Clayton, and Pratt), and poignantly retrospective dance vocabulary, TOL... speaks to the issue of tolerance- how much Black performers had to tolerate, and addresses-forms of modern day minstrelsy we tolerate today. It is not a history lesson. Blending and contrasting the contemporary with the historic, the goal of this personal work is to engage, provoke, and move the conversation of race forward in a timely dialogue about where we have been, where we are and where we might want to be.
"Brown has created a dance performance that manifests and explores, both abstractly and directly, the complexities of institutional racism, fame and the ruthlessness of Hollywood, and the power of cultural images to overtake personal freedom, just as Lee has in his movie...the character of the show is much more complex than simply a protest piece. The work goes deep into its material and finds humor and beauty and frustration and ugliness and…and… and." Oregon Arts Watch