The apple of Momma Lou’s eye, Gideon embodies his parents’ hope for a brighter future for their family. College educated with the tireless support and sacrifice of his parents, he was to be the one to break free of the ghetto, to enjoy an integrated family life with his newfound peers in a middle management, middle-class suburban community of comfortably conspicuous consumption. Yet because of racism and prejudice, he has yet to find a job better than a janitor to support his wife and two children. An endless string of interviews for more suitable employment, turned instantly humiliating and patronizing by his appearance as a black man, stokes a slow fire of anger, resentment and disillusionment into a quiet and determined fury and a thirst for any kind of success, at any cost.
Turning to the easy drug money of the underground, Gideon is transformed from a victim into a victimizer. Slowly and inexorably, the circles of destruction around him widen in the community and echo back to devastate his own extended family. With the sophisticated and compelling portrayal of its complex characters, Gideon’s Blues offers entrance into the emotional dynamics of all families and cultures throughout history, by dealing with the powerful imperatives of love, fealty, devotion and justice. Much more than a play about the effects of racism, the profound humanity of Boyd’s characters reminds us that while neither drug abuse nor the breakdown of the traditional family is exclusive to the black community, racism causes these problems to become much more destructive to that community than they are to the dominant culture of North America.
Cast of three women and four men.
George Elroy Boyd is a highly acclaimed Nova Scotian playwright and journalist who has been based in Montreal for the last three years as playwright-in-residence at the Black Theatre Workshop. His plays have been produced by the Neptune Theatre, Eastern Front Theatre, Obsidian Theatre and the CBC. The founder of the Canadian Black Theatre Society, Boyd has been nominated for a Governor General’s Award for his play Consecrated Ground (2000), and Gideon’s Blues has been adapted into film, which was released in 2004.
“Boyd’s writing is muscular, vigorous and commanding.”
— Globe & Mail