This is a backstage moment from a production of The Scottsboro Boys, a play using the format of the traditional minstrel show, complete with blackface at the end, to comment on modern day events.
During the play, the two guys in the tails take on the Office of Tambo & Bones, and the white guy seen at the end takes on the Office of Interlocutor. These are very important Offices in the structure of a traditional minstrel play. I'm mentioning this in a helpful guide sort of way.
Last year it killed me that I not yet the sort of person who can afford to get on a plane and fly to NYC to see a Broadway show at the drop of a hat. The show is now on tour, rumors are that it will hit the west coast, and I'm already scheming Broke People Figure Out How To Do Things All The Time ways to be in an audience if this comes anywhere near LA.
I must to see this play. I must to see this play. OMG I must figure out a way to see this play if it comes anywhere near me. I want to see it even though I'm afraid I'll end up sobbing wildly in the theater, unable to get out of my seat and thus blocking the exit for other people in my row, as happened when I went to see The Ballad of Emmet Till at the Fountain and ended up being comforted in the arms of what turned out to be that play's director which was so so very embarassing because that is a woman creator I revere and the first time I manage to meet her is in a moment of weakness curled in her arms as she told me It Will Be Okay? OMG. Once I got my shit together, I basically fled from the theater, past the cast assembled on the sidewalk to talk to folks, past her standing there to do the same, and to the car I had at the time for the sanctuary that is Home.
Which you probably don't care about, but I Know Myself, and I have a pretty good idea of what will happen if I manage to see see this play about the Scottsboro Boys which uses minstrelsy to tell the story.
I like this backstage moment for a bunch of reasons, the biggest one being that you hear stories of what actors in an ensemble play do to bring themselves into the same emotional space before they throw down live in front of us, but you rarely get to see it. Watch the video - that's what's happening in the clip. These men are about to go onstage to do something enormously difficult at many levels due to the content of this play, its historical landscape, and its format, and they are checking in with each other first. They are creating the Group Mind, and they are feeling it. That's what you're seeing hapen. It is amazing. Normally we don't get to see this.
(If you don't know what the Scottboro Boys case is about, or understand why using that particular case as base for a traditional minstrel show is an issue of Stratospheric Controversy, please don't ever talk to me again because at this moment of typing my tolerance for America 101-level discussions is lacking. I might get back to my normally Mostly Tolerant self next week though, so check in then!)