This weekend, Azuka Theatre debuts their latest production, “Ready, Steady, Yeti, Go” — a world premiere from acclaimed playwright, David Jacobi — which runs through March 11.
The play examines how those working to stand up against racism can actually be contributing to the problem, without being conscious of it. It begins after a hate crime is committed at a junior high school in a small town. While the locals rally together to “kill racism forever,” Goon, one of the students, becomes friends with the only black girl in the school, Carly.
Things start to get complicated when the pair falls in love, as the people of the town respond by being excessively nosy, passive aggressive and unintentionally racist, despite their best efforts to stop racism.
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“I wanted to direct ‘READY’ because it terrified me and made me laugh,” says director Allison Heishman. “When you come across a play like that, you leap first and then ask questions.”
“Ready, Steady, Yeti, Go” deals with intense subject matter in a playful way and Heishman hopes it will make audiences think as well as laugh.
“We need to ask better questions and learn how to listen,” she says. “We need to be better listeners. We can take better care of our friends and neighbors, our families, ourselves simply by taking the time to listen and hear what’s being said.”
When it comes to racism, Heishman believes a lot of work needs to be done when it comes to talking about it and this play does a great job of outlining these issues.
“Most of us have no idea how to talk about race, and we are terrible at listening to those who are,” she says. “I hope this play can inspire better conversations about race and systematic racism. Working on this production has been a humbling experience. It’s an important play because of the voices that came together to breathe life into it.”
Aside from tackling the tougher issues, “Ready, Steady, Yeti, Go” also inspires conversation about childhood — a subject everyone can relate to.
“While this play is about racism, reflection and forgiveness, I also want to hear everyone tell stories about all the embarrassing, stupid and amazing things they did when they were 12 years old,” she says. “We talked a lot about that in the rehearsal room — it’s a pivotal time in everyone’s life. Remember what 12- year-old you wanted to do and be. How different are you now?”
In an effort to make theatre accessible to all, Azuka Theatre’s entire season is operating under the “Pay What You Decide” model. If you’d like to see “Ready, Steady, Yeti, Go,” simply make a reservation online for your seat in advance. You can pay what you decide after the show.
If you go:
Ready, Steady, Yeti, Go
Through March 11
Pay what you decide
Proscenium Theatre at the Drake
302 S. Hicks St.