A new drama called "Pipeline," which premiered at Lincoln Center Monday night, tackles the issues of racism, economic and educational inequality. NY1's Roma Torre filed the following report.
"Pipeline" is a riveting new drama by Dominique Morisseau that specifically deals with issues of race and education. But as great plays are wont to do, it paints a mirror that reflects on all of us.
Nya is a teacher in an inner city high school where educational inequities spell tremendous challenges for everyone in the system.
And that's why Nya and her ex-husband enrolled their only son Omari in an expensive boarding school, hoping that white privilege can rub off on him. But geography and tuition are not enough to erase the legacy of resentment and rage that he can't seem to shake. And when he gets into a fight at school, Nya, who’s sacrificed so much, feels the world crashing down on her.
Morisseau clearly knows these people, unraveling layers of hurt, frustration and guilt that have built up over the years. Wielding her pen as if a scalpel, she slices deeply to the core of each of her characters. And director Lileana Blain-Cruz stages the simple yet powerful production with expert finesse.
It's hard to imagine a better ensemble. Omari's confrontation with his father, played with hardened restraint by Morocco Omari, is chilling. Heather Velazquez, as Omari's Latina girlfriend, impressively breaks stereotype as the token poor girl at the school. Jaime Lincoln Smith as an overworked security guard is excellent. Tasha Lawrence, as a white teacher beaten literally and figuratively by the system, has a lot of fight left in her. And Karen Pittman, projecting both strength and vulnerability, delivers a consummate performance. She is matched by Namir Smallwood as her confused son battling forces inside and out.
There's a reference in the play to the kids "growing down." It's a shameful indictment of a society that can't guarantee a better pipeline to growing up.