Friday night was date night, with dinner and a show. Actually, it was double date night, because we joined Captain Don and DJ. Dinner was at Big Sky, I picked it and so Don won the pool. The food there was good, as always. Under heavy social pressure, I eschewed the pot roast and had their new salmon dish. Anne had pumpkin soup and a salmon burger. She almost got a real burger by mistake. She got the waitress to fetch her the ingredients for pumpkin soup and I’m pretty sure that she memorized them. I suspect that we will be having pumpkin soup Thanksgiving. We already have the pumpkin.
“Fly”, tonight’s play, told the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. Written by Trey Ellis and Ricardo Khan, this retelling of these airmen’s story, started out as a play for children. It was commissioned by the Lincoln Center. The play opens in 1943, two years into the Tuskegee program and America’s involvement in World War II. Ellis was also a writer for the 1995 HBO movie, “The Tuskegee Airmen”. Fellow writer Khan directed tonight’s play. Coincidentally, some of the MRH high school students saw a matinée showing of the play on Friday. Anne was at the high school today and looks forwarded to getting back there, so that she can discuss this play with them. By all accounts, the students really liked the play too.
At the beginning of the play, one of the airmen declares, “History is like a river and we’re standing in the middle of it.” The airmen, formally the 332nd Fighter Group, took their nickname from Tuskegee, Alabama, the town where they were trained, to become the country’s first black military pilots. “Fly” focuses on four young men entering the Tuskegee training program. They are asked to face two enemies, one foreign and the other domestic. Because of this two front war, the stereotypical basic training scenes are lent a hard racial edge. The white characters are not treated as one-dimensional stereotypes, but instead grow from bigots to respectful brothers in arms, as the same actors morph characters, from basic training to combat. The character of Tap Griot, a young dancer with dreadlocks, acts as a nearly voiceless, if not particularly silent moderator. The rat-a-tat-tat of his shoes echoes the machine gun fire of combat. The 332nd Fighter Group never lost one of their escorted American bombers to enemy aircraft and I’ve never seen a bunch of guys sitting in office chairs make air combat more exciting.