Hate! at Miami Theater Center Shows the Many Faces of Bigotry
Christina Alexander: "It's pretty naked."
Ronald R. Johnson
A couple of years ago, an interracial couple told Miami actress Christina Alexander that several churches had refused to marry them. This sparked an idea -- for a one-woman show about equality told from multiple points of view, connecting the historical and emotional dots between interracial and gay marriage. The resulting production, Hate! An American Love Story, received a workshop last fall at the M Ensemble Company and will enjoy its world premiere this Friday through February 23 at Miami Theater Center's flexible, 50-seat SandBox space.
Alexander, who won Miami New Times' Best Actress award last year for her dynamic performance in the M Ensemble's Harlem Duet, will portray eight characters across 16 monologues, including a Southern white woman confronting the reality that her sister is marrying a black man; a 15-year-old Caucasian girl who is knocked up by a 19-year-old black man; and a seemingly heterosexual serviceman who realizes he's gay while the U.S. military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy is in force. The first act explores these characters' predicaments, and the second reveals how they change because of their life experiences.
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There's no autobiography in the show, but Alexander sees herself in all of the characters. As recently as 2011, she points out, religious institutions in Southern states have refused to marry whites and blacks. Apparently, as long as there are Confederate gift shops and mint juleps, there will be enough white resentment to keep hate alive.
"I approached it in a really academic way," she says. "I had an idea of the stories I wanted to tell, so I did the work of interviewing lots of people, getting lots of perspectives, and waiting for inspiration, which wasn't the easiest or most prudent choice, but it worked out. It was igniting the anthropologist in me, to want to jump into these different characters."
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