Arena Stage is presenting the Washington DC premiere of Lydia R. Diamond’s Smart People at its Kreeger Theater. Directed by Seema Sueko, the show is filled with ricocheting words on race and gender stereotypes and their effects on different aspects of society in the United States. Set in the period from September 2007 to January 20, 2009, four “smart people” in Cambridge, Massachusetts unpack race and gender related issues in their professional and personal lives, politics, and economy in the times of optimism and hope.
The four characters are, in one way or the other, affiliated with Harvard University, an elite institution peopled by “smart people.” They are: Valerie Johnston, an aspiring and struggling African American actor (with an MFA degree in theatre); Brian White, a white professor of cognitive neuroscience; Ginny Yang, an Asian American (Chinese-Japanese American) professor of psychology, specializing in anxiety and depression among Asian American women, and counsellor; and Jackson Moore, an African American emergency room doctor who is in the process of getting a residency. During the course of the play, these characters encounter, begin relationships, and in some cases, experience their fallouts. [Read more…]