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

Charleston City Paper,
from Wednesday, May 30, 2001

The State,
from Friday, April 6, 2001


The Problem with 'Problem' is short run

from The State
Friday, April 6, 2001

Staff Writer

At the start of a new, one-act play about the first black faculty Member at USC, the actor portraying him points out some problems in the program. He says he was never a member of the Harvard Club or the American Negro Academy.

That's the story of Richard Greener's life in "The White Problem," commissioned by, and premiering at, USC.

His story has been told wrong or not told at all. Sometimes it hasn't been told the way Greener would have liked.

In the early portions of the play, and in flashes throughout, we gain a real knowledge of this man, who has largely disappeared from history books, especially those about USC.

Playwright Jon Tuttle, director Greg Leevy and actors David Wiles and Darion McCloud do not manage to keep up this pace and level throughout the hour long play.

Even so, Tuttle's sharp ideas, character development and fine writing shine through. One hopes Tuttle pursues this play.

The director keeps things simple, and that's a good decision.

The two actors enter, Wiles at a podium, playing Greener revisiting USC in 1907. He says he will speak on "The Academic Life," but he never quite gets around to that subject.

We learn of his brief but glorious time at an integrated USC in the 1870s, which he calls "an educational and social utopia."

We also learn of his various careers as lawyer, government employee and ambassador. Most of these were unsuccessful, as was his role as husband and father.

We see his pain and the injustices he suffered. We also see his ego, ceaseless bragging and name dropping.

What we see is a human.

McCloud provides the voice of a younger Greener, as well as those around him, from his sometimes friends and sometimes enemies Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois, to the racists who taunted him on a speaking tour.

The "White Problem" runs only through Sunday at Longstreet Theatre. It would be nice to see an expanded version for a longer run before too long.

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The Board of Trustees
University of South Carolina

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