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The Light June 3 through 26

The Light

by Loy A. Webb
Running time: 70 minutes with no intermission
Content Warning: 
This show contains racial slurs, mentions of sexual assault and rape, and mention of abortion. 
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2021/22 Season Sponsors
G. Lee & Diana Humphrey
Production sponsored by Don & Susan Casey
Director Jacqui Parker Sponsored by Amanda Eckhoff & Randall Hall


On the night of their engagement, long-simmering discord bubbles to the surface for Genesis, a Principal at a Chicago charter school and Rashad, her firefighter boyfriend of two years. Long-buried secrets and painful revelations threaten to splinter the couple's relationship when a gift of concert tickets is given. What should be one of the happiest days of their life begins to unravel, layers of truth and doubt are peeled away, and the power of love and reconciliation is tested. 
It is a Friday night in May 2018. Rashad, an African-American man in his mid-thirties, is planning to propose to his girlfriend Genesis, who is also Black. He is pacing around her living room with a ring box and two envelopes when he hears her come home, and after hiding the items, he pretends to be cleaning in a poor attempt to cover his tracks. They banter affectionately and the subject turns to Rashad’s five-year-old daughter Amaya, whose mother abandoned her. Rashad thanks Genesis for her impact in both Amaya’s life and his, which makes Genesis suspicious yet again.
Genesis, the principal of an all-Black charter school, changes the subject to her difficulties at work. The previous day, one of the teachers under her employ (who is white) posted on Instagram in support of Supreme Court hopeful Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of rape by one Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Other employees saw the post and demanded that Genesis fire the teacher, but as she explains to Rashad, she has no grounds to do so despite her strong personal disagreement – the post was made outside of school hours from a personal account, and therefore did not break any school policies. Rashad expresses concern about keeping the teacher on staff, but assures Genesis that he trusts her experience as principal and her decision-making. 
We learn that the couple’s anniversary is that evening, a fact which Rashad playfully pretends to forget. They agree to exchange gifts, but he insists that Genesis go first. While she is out of the room, Rashad quickly grabs the ring and the envelopes and puts them in his pockets. Genesis returns and gives Rashad his first gift: a season pass for the Chicago Bears, his favorite NFL team. She refuses to give him his second gift until she gets hers, prompting Rashad to remind her of Amaya’s first day of school – the day they met. Genesis reminds Rashad that she wants to be engaged by this time next year; Rashad deflects by asking her about their first date, when they saw the artist Raitima perform. They danced to “their song” and shared their first kiss, a moment which Rashad recreates before handing her an envelope.
Inside is a handwritten letter, in which Rashad tells Genesis that his soul had been starving for her, that his soul has been full since that first day they danced, and that he wants her presence to nourish him for his entire life. The envelope is postmarked October 6, 2016 – the day after their first date, two years prior. Rashad takes out the ring and asks Genesis to marry him, and overjoyed, she says yes. In return, she shares with him the moment she fell for him, on a spontaneous trip to New Orleans just three weeks into their relationship. When they slept together, Genesis felt a security in her body and in herself that she never had before, an assurance that Rashad wanted her just as she was. Rashad pulls out the second envelope, containing backstage-access tickets to see Raitima. Genesis is thrilled until she realizes Raitima is performing as part of a concert hosted by the artist Kashif, who she says she cannot support.
Rashad is hurt, as a friend of his had pulled a lot of strings to get them the tickets, which they normally couldn’t afford. He’s concerned that giving them back will make him look bad, and he’s offended because he put a lot of time and effort into planning the proposal. Genesis explains that while she is incredibly appreciative and recognizes the effort he put in, she sees Kashif’s music as disrespectful to women, and therefore cannot support it. Rashad shoots back that he speaks positively on issues that affect the Black community, but Genesis points out that he only does so in regards to Black men, while portraying women negatively. Rashad compares Kashif’s misogyny to the treatment of men in the lyrics of Black female artists like Beyonce. He launches into a frustrated rant about Amaya’s mother, who cheated on her husband with him before Rashad broke up with her; he also didn’t know he had a child until she left Amaya with him. Genesis calls this an isolated incident amongst women. 
Frustrated, Rashad concludes that if Genesis can listen to Beyonce, then he can listen to Kashif. This frustrates Genesis, because she asked Rashad not to listen to his music. Rashad counters that he doesn’t listen to it around her out of respect, but that she can’t control what he listens to. He begins to massage her feet to calm her down, and asks if she’s willing to explain why she’s so against Kashif. Genesis says that Kashif is a hypocrite, and that his socially conscious persona is a facade. She reveals that they went to college together, and that he raped one of her friends. Rashad is shocked, and begins asking questions – if Kashif was arrested or disciplined by the school, if he ever admitted it, if Genesis’ friend ever came forward – to try and “get a picture of the full story.” Genesis is incensed, comparing it to the accusations against Kavanaugh, but Rashad says it’s a different situation to prematurely accuse a Black man whose life could be ruined. Genesis insists that her friend’s testimony is all the evidence he should need to denounce Kashif, and that Rashad is automatically taking Kashif’s side.
Genesis asserts that Black men may not have privilege in relation to society, but they have privilege in relation to Black women, who have to struggle with being both Black and female. By re-centering the conversation around Kashif and Black men rather than the woman who was raped, Genesis says, Rashad is exercising Black male privilege. She also claims that he only supports Dr. Ford because she stands against a privileged white man. Rashad re-emphasizes that a Black man’s life can be derailed by one false accusation, unlike Kavanaugh who only receives a slap on the wrist for an assault. He reveals that an ex of his, who was angry that he broke up with her, falsely accused him. As a result, he was arrested for domestic battery and was considered guilty for three years, during which time he lost his college football scholarship, his reputation, and his eligibility to play. Rashad calls himself a failure, expressing a fear that he’s disappointed his mother. Though Genesis is initially more sympathetic, she’s put off once again when Rashad suggests they still go to the concert, and that the situation “isn’t worth marching over.” She begs him to see that it’s bigger than the concert, and then asks how he would feel if Kashif had raped his daughter. This changes his attitude, and Genesis says that sexual assault shouldn’t have to be personal for Rashad to care.
As he gets up to leave, Genesis tells Rashad that she was the one Kashif raped. He asks Genesis why she lied, and she says that he should have believed her whether it was her friend, Genesis, or any woman – that all men are defended at the expense of Black girls and women. She locks herself in her bedroom and refuses to speak to Rashad; he begins to walk away, but decides to stay and fight for Genesis and their relationship. He asks her what he can do to make their relationship better and asks her to continue teaching him, but she asserts that it is not her job to teach him, and that women are always given the burden of educating men. Genesis wants to be with someone who already understands. Rashad insists that he needs to be taught when he’s wrong to make the right decision, and while trying to find a reason to stay, remembers that Genesis hid a second gift for him. He finds it and opens it before she can stop him; inside the gift box is a baby onesie.
Overcome with emotion, Rashad offers his support of Genesis and her pregnancy. She implies that she is considering getting an abortion, because she is terrified that someone will do to her child what Kashif did to her. She recalls how she fought back during the assault and contemplated suicide afterward, and how she reported Kashif to her Black, female dean, who told her not to come forward because it would ruin both her life and his. Karma would repay him, she said – but as Genesis explains, it never did. Kashif is loved by her city and her people, and all she wants is a light in the darkness of the exhaustion of her everyday reality, fighting to be seen, valued, and believed as a Black woman. After a moment, Rashad apologizes for failing her, and assures her that he believes her. He says he wants to be there for her, not because he is her man, but because she deserves it. As he turns to leave, Genesis calls his name and turns to face him. They look at each other with nothing else left to say.
* Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States
** Represented by United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829 of the IATSE
°Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

Press & Reviews

The Light by Loy A. Webb - Lyric Stage Company (Boston, MA) - Review | METRMag | Kevin T. Baldwin
"Both Carter and Odetoyinbo are exemplary in their performances. Odetoyinbo, especially, has a thoroughly rich monologue which she executes with tremendous heartfelt emotion."
"Parker has given her cast the space they need to let their characters develop, but she also has a handle on the pacing of the 70-minute piece, especially when the dialogue becomes white-hot and the two characters take turns dropping bombs on each other."
"The production is buoyed by an assured performance from relative newcomer Dominic Carter, who deftly strikes the difficult balance between wisecracking alpha guy and thoughtful partner. And Boston favorite Yewande Odetoyinbo, known primarily for her powerhouse vocals and presence in a number of Boston musicals displays strong acting chops as the principled Genesis."
"The cast includes Yewande Odetoyinbo as Genesis and Dominic Carter as Rashad. 'I read the script and I cried,' says Odetoyinbo. 'I don’t think we get a chance to see a lot of stories that center around a Black couple that are truly in love with each other, and you can see how much in love they are.'"
"You have such great directing here by Jacqui Parker in a directorial debut for 'The Lyric,'" Bowen says. "At the end, I had to stifle myself from actually making an exclamation because I was so involved. I wanted to yell out from my seat — that's how powerful it was."
“The success of the Lyric production revolves around director Jacqui Parker’s emphasis on establishing an ease between her two actors. When the heated exchanges drift into slick debate points, Parker gently guides Odetoyinbo and Carter back to the challenge of a woman caught in a moment of utter vulnerability, trying to find her way to trust.”
"It is a meaningful show hinging on the strengths of its leads and Yewande Odetoyinbo as school principal Genesis and Dominic Carter as firefighter Rashad are more than up to the task.  While both characters are stubborn, Odetoyinbo’s grounded and witty nature as Genesis strikes an important balance with Carter’s optimistic and playful sense of humor as Rashad.  Carter is charismatically charming and leads in some of the production’s funniest moments while Odetoyinbo as Genesis is best as the tension builds."
"The story — with lovely set design from Baron E. Pugh — is a welcome one, with great performances from both Carter and Odetoyinbo. There aren’t too many love stories centering a Black couple, and the actors’ natural abilities make their romance seem believable and their pain palpable."
"The true radiance in "The Light" proves to be the chemistry between director Parker and actors Carter and Odetoyinbo"

Ticket Prices

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ST Weekend $75 $80 $55 $60
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ST Weeknight $56 $60 $40 $44
ST Weekend $60 $64 $44 $48


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