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Charleston Post and Courier,
from Tuesday, May 29, 2001

Charleston City Paper,
from Wednesday, May 30, 2001

The State,
from Friday, April 6, 2001


'White Problem' looks racism in the eye

from The Post and Courier
Tuesday, May 9, 2001

Post and Courier Reviewer

You enter a brightly lit lecture hall. You hear a collage of Bach organ music playing in the background. On stage you see a chair, a lectern, and a small table with a goblet and pitcher of water. Immediately the mood dictates academia.

Suddenly the organ selections change to a fanfare and you the professor is about to enter. The house goes to total black in a flash. You sit for one or two seconds in anticipation. The lights come up on Dr. Greener (David Wiles) at the podium, adorned in a scarlet robe complete with the hood of academia. In the chair to Wiles' right is a man dressed completely black (Darion McLoud), who quietly as "The White Problem" begins.

Written by Jon Tuttle and directed by Greg Leevy, the "lecture" by Professor Greener was offered to a poorly attended house at the Physicians Auditorium on Monday afternoon. An important and interesting essay, the piece had its premiere last month at USC in honor of Dr. Richard Greener. Born in 1844, Greener became the first black faculty member at the university and remained there until the school became segregated.

Greener was also unique as the first black to graduate from Harvard. From there his life became a whirlwind, not fully accepted by his own people and not accepted by the white community either because of his color.

As Wiles lectures, McLoud plays various roles including Greener’s alter ego, and he is excellent. He flows in and out of different dialects with ease and moves confidently around the stage.

by Jon Tuttle;
directed by Greg Leevy;
scene and lighting design by Todd Stuart;
costumes by Arpina Makarian;
at Physicians Auditorium, at 9 p.m.
Wednesday, June 3 and 7; 6 p.m.
Thursday and June 4 and 8; 3 p.m.
Friday, June 5 and 9.
Richard Greener—David Wiles
Other voices—Darion McLoud

At one point in the work, playing a student, McLoud is bewildered by what the professor is saying. It is simply above him. Greener recognizes his confusion and blurts out, "You were a slave. Weren’t you?" The student immediately answers, "Yes. Weren’t you?" The moment is powerful.

As Greener, Wiles has a commanding demeanor about him but sometimes is unsure of his lines. He stands straight and tall, but appears less at ease on the stage than his partner.

"Problem" is a compelling piece that should be seen. It looks racism squarely in the eye. No holds barred. In 1995, Richard Wright was asked about the "Negro Problem" in America. He answered, "There isn’t any Negro problem; there is only a white problem." He was referring to the fact that whites control society and are loathe to give a break to anyone whose skin is a different color. Remember Rodney King? Why CAN’T we get along?

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The Board of Trustees
University of South Carolina

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