Leavealilroomforgrace is a blog about my quest to navigate my marriage, motherhood, and career with grace. By a stroke of Grace, I was selected to be one of the four bloggers for the August Wilson Celebration at the Goodman Theatre. I am so elated to chronicle this journey with you as I travel through the decades of the Black experience by way of August’s ten-play cycle. We will provide personal reflections on the women of August Wilson.
Often times women are relegated to being the backbone of society. They are banished to the background to bear the weight of the burden. This holds true in August Wilson’s 1960’s based play, Two Trains Running.
Nambi E. Kelley’s Risa is the very spine of the piece. Though her demeanor is stiff and protective at times, her movement is lucid. Her gait deserves its own soundtrack. Risa is no-nonsense and she literally takes matters into her own hands to make it clear that she is no one’s sexual object. She is tough enough to withstand the lewd passes, barked orders, and frequent demands of the men she’s surrounded by daily and yet compassionate enough to handle the less fortunate with white glove service. Many knock at the door to gain entry into Risa’s heart, but only one man succeeds…Hambone( the incomparable Ernest Perry, Jr.) The relationship between Hambone and Risa is the real love story. Hambone may be mentally handicapped, but he has more sense than most. Risa handles Hambone with humility and grace. The very man who does not objectify her is the one who truly has her heart. Though there is the more “traditional” love line between Sterling ( played suavely by Chester Gregory), it is clear that Risa’s true love is Hambone.
Ernest Perry, Jr. as Hambone and Nambi E. Kelley as Risa photo credit: Liz Lauren
The thing about the backbone is that it’s complicated. It has so many components that contribute to the strength and flexibility of the body. It is vital for the whole unit. Well, sounds a bit like a woman to me, at least this woman.
Please look for more posts chronicling the celebration from these ladies: