Bill Posley’s new one-man play, The Day I Became Black, deals with racial identity and racism in America. However, the heart of his message lies in radical empathy. Posley wants us to be able to look at each other with understanding-sometimes literally as he asks the audience to find someone who doesn’t look like themselves and stare at that person. The central premise of the show is the day Posley realized the world saw him as black. What he wants everyone to know is that he isn’t a special case- the world decides who you are for you.
As someone who grew up viewing himself as equally black and white, Posley has a unique perspective on the absurdity of prejudice. The show runs like a standup comedy special with a serious message and Posley walks this line well. In between hilarious anecdotes from Posley’s life are calls to greater understanding between all people. He puts the audience at ease, encouraging them to laugh with him and even participate.
The show is run almost conversationally with clips, graphics, music and of course jokes. He touches on his past, big moments in American history (like the OJ verdict), as well as its present. As should be expected of a show that deals with race in America, it gets dark. Maybe be prepared to cry, and don’t bring very young children.
Fresh off a run in Los Angeles, the show is playing off-Broadway in New York City from now until May 26. Catch it at the Soho Playhouse on 15 Vandam Street. Tickets are available here.
We also spoke to Bill Posley about the play and his writing process.