DRIVING MISS FUCKNG DAISY
We received a number of comments on Jeff Meyer's feature on Metro Detroit's theater scene and its race problem.
I appreciated the article about Driving Miss Daisy. I completely agree with you. Except you're missing one thing: The Detroit Repertory Theatre. We're still standing here after 58 years, in an inner-city neighborhood, producing indigenous, issue-oriented, professional theater with a race-transcendent casting policy.
We have produced pretty much every play and playwright you mention (except for Driving Miss Daisy), and not just in February. Some of our productions may appear to be "safer" and "nicer" than others. Some are directly about the African American experience. There is one thing that never changes on our stage, though: You will always see mixed races and ethnicities on our stage — unless germane to the play. The idea is that two hours of suspension of disbelief in the theater will translate to real life. And it is true, it really happens. It is through this casting method, this way of telling stories on the stage — about people, not race — that we continue to fight the disturbing level of racism that still exists today.
You will not see tokenism on our stage. Our audiences are as diverse as metro Detroit's citizenry.
I like what you have written, I am excited Metro Times is talking about Detroit-area theater and the politics within the plays and the business, but I wish you would acknowledge the work of Michigan's longest-running nonprofit professional theater and currently Detroit's only professional theater company, because the Detroit Rep has been addressing "Michigan theater's big race problem" since before most of us were born. (Well, at least me, and I am not "young.")
So, I would like to invite you to a show at the Detroit Rep and let you see for yourself. —Leah Smith, Detroit Repertory Theatre
'AN ACT OF CHARITY'?
In response to a Oct. 22 blog post from Valerie Vande Panne on the announcement that designer John Varvatos would open a store in Detroit, reader "Yeahbutstill" wrote:
While Varvatos's collections may be American-influenced, even Detroit-influenced, the garments are largely made in China. At bottom, the market for the very expensive punk-rock look seems to me to be very small in Detroit. (And if my personal taste is appropriate to offer here, those boots make me want to die a little.) After all, this is an age in which it's fashionable to be poor ("I'm just a poor graduate student"), and to buy cheap secondhand clothing.
I'm afraid that the Detroit location is, at best, an act of charity, and at worst, will drive rents up when old-people landlords begin to assume that John Varvatos, sort of a laughingstock, is some sort of yuppie canary in the coal mine.
HELPING DETROIT HOMEOWNERS
We received a number of strident remarks about an Oct. 23 blog post from Michael Jackman that considered why Detroit hasn't offered a program to help keep homeowners in their homes yet.
Reader "Stephen Paul Goodfellow" wrote:
It is not hard to get the impression that there is absolutely no interest by the state to create favorable conditions for Detroit homeowners, and alas, a little nasty vindictive part of me feels good about this.
Ultimately this "I'm alright, Jack" attitude is helping to make Michigan what it is becoming: a backwater state with no significant sizable city. Consequently, most of Michigan's youth will head to other states to experience the hot action afforded by large exciting metropolitan cities and — well perhaps — visit their intolerably racist aging parents as little as they can. Nice job, that; keep it up.
Reader "1Joshua" wrote:
Obamagogue gave his puppet, Karzai, tens of millions, delivered in suitcases. He gave the auto bosses hundreds of billions. He gave the never-prosecuted banksters $12.9 trillion. He pours money into Egypt and Israel. He funded the destruction of Libya, whose weapons and jihadists rush to [ISIS]. He is funding Syrian and Kurd jihadists — as "our terrorists." The demagogue, who betrayed the hopes of the Detroiters who elected him, as WSU's Dr. Rich Gibson said he would, and now he lets Detroit swing in the wind, ready to heave one-fifth of its population out of its homes. Detroit's problem is not too many poor homeowners. It is, and has been for decades, a cruel mix of failed capitalism, an empire in rapid decay, and racism. No housing program, or re-colonization plot (nod to Gibson again) will help that.