The solid members freeze mid-sentence, their concern and anticipation seen by clear plastic masks. Immediately, the display lights up with a multiple-choice query: “What would you do?”
On Sunday night, the Heart for Science and Society live-streamed “Glad Tuesday” on Fb: an interactive play written by Juan Guerrero, GS ’19, and co-directed by Guerrero and Ashley Calderón. Set within the gentrified neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, the play dissects a divided response to the opening of a homeless shelter. By displaying research statistics on a split-screen and opening up the characters’ ethical selections to the viewers by Fb polls, Guerrero phases psychological analysis as an accessible new style—one unimaginable within the days of pre-digital theater.
The play follows the lives of two households over the course of 1 week: Lemarcus and his eight-year-old daughter, Aniyah, who’ve simply moved into the shelter; and psychology professor Alistair and his fiancé, Charlie, who owns the struggling restaurant subsequent door. Glad Tuesday refers to an upcoming state senatorial election that may decide whether or not the district reroutes the funds away from the shelter and towards an elevated police presence. Each statistic leads as much as the Tuesday election, informing each characters and viewers that the nervousness they really feel round their homeless neighbors is a realized response.
Removed from feeling stilted or dry, Guerrero seamlessly incorporates analysis findings into his characters’ dialogue. “Glad Tuesday” is simply as a lot about the fantastic thing about names as it’s about name-based hiring bias, as a lot about love and religion as it’s about conditioned fear-responses.
Guerrero’s portrait of Lemarcus is especially transferring. He illustrates the fixed, painstaking care required to guard his small daughter from internalizing racial bias. We watch as Lemarcus rushes to change off the information, shielding her from infinite warnings of suspects falsely recognized as “dark-skinned,” and from a neighborhood phase on an elementary-school woman’s “rebellious and distracting” hair. Whereas explaining to Aniyah that her grandmother has handed on, Lemarcus gives her with an invisible form of love and assist:
“She’ll dwell inside your coronary heart ceaselessly,” he says. “And in the event you hear carefully, you’ll be capable to hear her in tough occasions.”
Lemarcus’ storyline additionally demonstrates the near-impossible problem of climbing out of homelessness. Unable to afford formal clothes for a job interview, he reluctantly shoplifts a white button-down shirt. Later, the shirt’s safety tag pops whereas Lemarcus attire inside a cramped public restroom, drenching each the shirt and his stack of resumes in black ink.
When he manages to reprint them, Lemarcus switches his first identify to Mark—a choice that will get him employed at Charlie’s restaurant. We watch Charlie remove résumés purely based mostly on how “white” or “Black” the identify sounds, sharing the display with knowledge from a labor market discrimination report.
But “Charlie” just isn’t his actual identify both. Upon transferring from Venezuela to New York, his drama trainer informed him he would get extra auditions with a much less “in-your-face” Spanish identify. He and Lemarcus commerce tales, bonding over how they gave up “Carlos” and “Lemarcus” for higher possibilities of employment. Right here, Guerrero deconstructs Charlie’s implicit biases: The honesty and vulnerability created in that second lastly makes him rethink his place on the homeless shelter.
The viewers by no means hears the outcomes of the state senatorial election. As an alternative, Guerrero situates the play as an ongoing decision-making course of that won’t finish with anyone vote. “Glad Tuesday” challenges the viewers to probe the uncomfortable distinction between their conduct and their beliefs. Guerrero guides the viewer by stacks of analysis, rigorously figuring out moments of cognitive dissonance. Crucially, he renders this analysis not solely accessible however actionable: The play pulls vital ideas out of abstraction till they’re on our doorstep—after which he leaves us standing within the voting traces.