Final Draft: Pass Over

Please comment your reviews of Pass Over here.

4 Comments on “Final Draft: Pass Over

  1. Marisa Lenardson
    SECOND DRAFT

    Moses stands in a golden ray of light, shining as if it comes from heaven above. He speaks passionately about crossing a great wide river that stands between himself and freedom from the street corner where he lives in fear. That moment, preceded by a day of watching Moses and his friend Kitch, leaves a viewer wanting nothing more than for them to succeed. Pass Over produced by Kingsborough Community College illustrates how police brutality afflicts black men in society by focusing on a curbside inhabited by Kitch and Moses. Their day is spent searching for a purpose, as they get into conversations and fake fights that provide comedic relief along the way. There are heartfelt performances combined with coordinated movements, imaginative sound and lighting design, and a set that symbolizes the world these characters inhabit. These creative elements enhance the dark themes of the show and evokes sympathy and understanding from an audience.

    Moses and Kitch have a close-knit friendship fueled with playfulness and brotherly love. Their chemistry goes beyond the realm of words and impacts the effortlessness of their body language. Moses is small in stature, with a personality that seems too big to be contained within him. Kitch stands taller and heftier but carries a relaxed attitude. Their contrast creates humor as Moses leads the duo with his ambitious ideas and manic energy. Kitch challenges, complements, and coordinates with Moses’s movements, while choosing to keep a stoic face. At one point, the two engage in a game of “Uncle,” where Moses grips Kitch and attempts to twist his arm to bring him down. Kitch responds sarcastically, saying every other relative except for “uncle.” It demonstrates their comedic relationship and is indicative of a strong bond.

    When the character “Mister” is introduced, their physical interactions once again create a hilarious moment. Moses hops onto Kitch’s back yelling, “Keep yo hands out yo pocket!” Mister, Moses, and Kitch accentuate their line delivery with mannerisms that suit their character. For Mister, that looks like a poised and flamboyant posture that complements his fast, articulate speech. Since their movements are consistent, it becomes more jarring when these characters break their usual dynamic. When Mister yells “EVERYTHING’S MINE!” after being told he doesn’t own the “n” word, there is a moment of shock and silence. In a different scene, as Moses loses hope for a better life, he comes close to tears, shrieking “Why?” on the floor. These performances are powerful because their personalities and nuances are fully fleshed-out. Rather than feeling like words from a page, they feel like real people.

    When police drive by this street corner, a sensation of fear enters the room as Moses and Kitch drop to the ground. The sound of a piercing tone plays followed by a pounding heartbeat and the stage is left in a cold-bluish hue. The moments are tense and intentionally disruptive to the momentum of Kitch and Moses’s banter. Lighting throughout Pass Over manipulates the emotional atmosphere of a scene for practical and artistic purposes. After an intense confrontation with Ossifer, a racist police officer, the sun rises on the street corner and warm light floods the stage. As Kitch carries Moses’s dead body, the same golden light shines upon him that lit Moses during his speech about the great river. In doing so, this successfully incorporates religious ideas into the show. Lighting serves as a well-thought out visual metaphor for reaching the point of “passing over.”

    Technical aspects reveal the inner thoughts and feelings of these characters. While Moses and Kitch sleep, we hear a woman’s voice saying “take these boys off these streets” with the crackling of a fire in the background. At the same time, lights flicker to emulate fire. It isn’t entirely clear if this voice belongs to Moses’s mother or someone else, but it provides insight into the nightmarish dreams these young men have before they wake.

    Sound design is an essential aspect of the climactic scene between Ossifer and Moses, after Ossifer strikes Kitch on the head. Blood on both of his hands, Moses suddenly turns around on Ossifer and a jolting thump plays as he appears to be magically weakened by Moses. He continues to stand tall over him, inching his hand forward and watching Ossifer move with it. The sound effect clarifies the actions of the scene, considering that the rest of the show contains no fantasy elements. Though there were hints about Moses being “different” in some way, the audible sound of some kind of “force” being used provides clarity about what happens within this scene.

    The set for Pass Over seems like a practical street corner with a lamppost stretching to the ceiling and some milk crates to use as chairs. However, at the back of the stage a tree grows from the concrete. It is devoid of any color and appears to be metallic. The tree reflects the ambition of Moses and Kitch to grow beyond their concrete restrictions, and yet they remain rooted to this prison where they lack any chance to grow.

    Pass Over leaves many in tears because of the dark yet candid themes it displays. Presenting the horrors of police brutality and suicidal thoughts would strike most with an emotional toll but strikes severer during this production. Kingsborough Community College layered their version of Pass Over with thoughtful metaphors and impassioned delivery that leaves a person feeling heartbroken and wanting justice for a better world.

  2. “Pass Over” was a captivating piece of political theater portrayed by three incredibly talented students who never once failed to lose our attention. From the moment the audience stepped into the blackbox, we were immediately propositioned by a Police Officer patrolling the area, walking throughout the isles of seats, up and down the steps with audience members, and interacting with a lucky few who happened to be in his way. The two main actors were set on the stage before doors opened to the theater, giving us the opportunity to observe them during the preshow rap. Every sense was stimulated in a way that set the scene for exactly what kind of piece “Pass Over” was going to be.

    Once the show itself began, the actors greeted the audience with incredible energy that never ceased throughout the enitre 85 minutes of the piece. They were witty, quick, and unrelenting in their interactions. The partner work between Ross & McDuffie was impeccible, their relationship on stage would lead one to believe they’ve known each other their whole lives. It’s important to note that this was McDuffie’s first ever acting experience, and his performance was nearly flawless. His character “Kitch” was portrayed as this big, strong force of nature, but we learn early on that he’s the softer of the two characters. He was incredibly consistant in his choices and the world of the piece benefited so much from it.

    Throughout the piece we learn about these characters lives, their fears, their hopes and dreams. They are constantly humanizing and validating eachother, making their characters so much more than two names in a script. Christopher Ross (Moses) was such an addictive force of energy throughout his entire performance. Every emotion, every physicality, even the dialogue felt like it was written specifically for him. Both Ross and McDuffie had incredible performances and should continue to be celebrated for their work.

    This piece was driven by personal narritives that were met with conflict. The audience knew coming into this piece that they would be met with the topic of police brutality, a very relevant and necessary conversation starter, however this production specifically made us rethink the basis of the problem. The end of the piece was shocking and unexpected, but it was exactly what we needed to get the conversation started within ourselves. It’s not a secret that the majority of the 12:00 audience was almost entirely white, and by the end of this production they were all so moved, so shocked, and so ready to fight for those protagonists. It changed the way the audience viewed the real issue at hand, which is, we never know where hatred stems from. We never know who we can truly trust.

    We were given these two completely different characters, portrayed very well by Jefferey Laraichi, who were meant to put the audience on edge simply due to their existance. Characters who we knew we needed to fear. And while the climax of the piece was incredibly jarring and unnerving, it was what left us with the notion that we never truly know someone.

    Overall, this piece was so incredibly moving. The pacing of these characters, their energy, and their genuine understanding of how much their production mattered made it that much more exciting to watch. Kingsborough College put on a production of “Pass Over” that was so unique and brought such incredible energy that it’d be difficult to believe they weren’t part of the origional production. It was just, that, good.

  3. “Pass Over” was a captivating piece of political theater portrayed by three incredibly talented students who never once failed to lose our attention. From the moment the audience stepped into the blackbox, we were immediately propositioned by a Police Officer patrolling the area, walking throughout the isles of seats, up and down the steps with audience members, and interacting with a lucky few who happened to be in his way. The two main actors were set on the stage before doors opened to the theater, giving us the opportunity to observe them during the pre-show rap. Every sense was stimulated in a way that set the scene for exactly what kind of piece “Pass Over” was going to be.

    Once the show itself began, the actors greeted the audience with incredible energy that never ceased throughout the entire 85 minutes of the piece. They were witty, quick, and unrelenting in their interactions. The partner work between Ross & McDuffie was impeccable, their relationship on stage would lead one to believe they’ve known each other their whole lives. It’s important to note that this was McDuffie’s first ever acting experience, and his performance was nearly flawless. His character “Kitch” was portrayed as this big, strong force of nature, but we learn early on that he’s the softer of the two characters. He was incredibly consistent in his choices and the world of the piece benefited so much from it.

    Throughout the piece we learn about these characters lives, their fears, their hopes and dreams. They are constantly humanizing and validating each other, making their characters so much more than two names in a script. Christopher Ross (Moses) was such an addictive force of energy throughout his entire performance. Every emotion, every physicality, even the dialogue felt like it was written specifically for him. Both Ross and McDuffie had incredible performances and should continue to be celebrated for their work.

    This piece was driven by personal narratives that were met with conflict. The audience knew coming into this piece that they would be met with the topic of police brutality, a very relevant and necessary conversation starter, however this production specifically made us rethink the basis of the problem. The end of the piece was shocking and unexpected, but it was exactly what we needed to get the conversation started within ourselves. It’s not a secret that the majority of the 12:00 audience was almost entirely white, and by the end of this production they were all so moved, so shocked, and so ready to fight for those protagonists. It changed the way the audience viewed the real issue at hand, which is, we never know where hatred stems from. We never know who we can truly trust.

    We were given these two completely different characters, portrayed very well by Jefferey Laraichi, who were meant to put the audience on edge simply due to their existence. Characters who we knew we needed to fear. And while the climax of the piece was incredibly jarring and unnerving, it was what left us with the notion that we never truly know someone.

    Overall, this piece was so incredibly moving. The pacing of these characters, their energy, and their genuine understanding of how much their production mattered made it that much more exciting to watch. Kingsborough College put on a production of “Pass Over” that was so unique and brought such incredible energy that it’d be difficult to believe they weren’t part of the original production. It was just, that, good.

  4. “Where are you going?”
    “Nowhere.”

    Kingsborough Community College’s production of “Pass Over” by Antionette Nwandu presents the audience with two black men that are waiting to die. They’re poor, hungry, and afraid of a brutal death that awaits them. This is the reality of Moses and Kitch, the protagonists trying to find a way out of their impoverished lives. Pass Over shines a light on the fear and anxiety of being a person of color. Kingborough fires many shots with their production of Pass Over and not all of them hit their mark. A lot of the nuance the script by Nwandu presents are lost in translation. However, the crux of it shines through, police brutality has a debilitating effect on the African American psyche and it demands to be discussed.

    Each scene takes place on the same stoop where Moses (played by Christopher Ross) and Kitch (played by Jordan McDuffie) reside. They spend most of their time trying to think up ways to escape their lives and be someplace better. And the brutal irony is that they never do. Moses is charismatic and Kitch stoic and restrained. The two characters have a brotherly relationship that is genuine and a testament to the actors’ connection to each other. The characters are challenged by the arrival of Mister and Ossifer (both played by Jeffery Laraichi). Mister and Ossifer are two sides of the same coin. Mister is an anachronism that seems to have walked out of the early 20th century, complete with an edwardian suit and using words such as “golly.” He behaves rather cartoonishly and is an obvious caricature of the yuppies that wander into impoverished neighborhoods. The anachronistic qualities of his character are a subtle way of the playwright to hint that Mister doesn’t belong there. On the other side, Ossifer is a one note police villain that appears every so often to terrorize Moses and Kitch. Ossifer is a violent and oppressive presence on stage and his treatment of the two lead characters is difficult to watch, but you can’t look away.

    Moses and Kitch are audience surrogates to show what it’s like to be a person of color in the United States. When it comes to portraying the fear and paranoia of black men, Ross and McDuffie both deliver true-to-life and often haunting depictions of it. There’s an unsettling tone that lingers throughout the play and it’s during these moments McDuffie and Ross’ acting is at its strongest. They excel at displaying the terror that exists being a person of color.
    Fear and how a character respond to their fear is a recurring motif in Pass Over. When a police siren goes off the sound that plays resembles a vintage air raid siren more than a traditional police one. This was a smart choice by the sound design crew. Through this warlike sound they provide the audience a window into the minds of Kitch and Moses. And why they both jump for cover each time they hear it in the play. Moses responds to fear by being loud and obnoxious. Kitch does it by remaining quiet and complacent. Ossifer responds to fear by being aggressive and Mister shows he’s afraid by behaving obsequiously. The play is an excellent observation of the fear that ensues when two opposing cultures are brought together, especially when one of these cultures hold institutional power over the other.

    There’s times during the show that it seems Ross and McDuffie are speaking and shouting their lines rather than fully acting them out. For McDuffie this shows when he keeps the same, almost blank facial expression when acting. This works for scenes where his character Kitch is being emotionally reserved, but fails him in more emotionally demanding scenes. Occasionally, Ross will overact and shout louder than needed during scenes where Moses is emotionally frustrated. Their repeated flat delivery of the phrase “n**** damn” is disappointing. The two actors repeat it with no variation in their inflection and cauterizes any depth that could’ve been achieved with it. There is a difference between hearing the n-word on campus or onstage than it is to know its use when you actually live in the environment the play recreates; especially when you’re a person of color. There was an opportunity to use it in a cadence that reflects its often conversational connotation, allowing for greater contrast with Ossifer’s use of the word. Which in turn cuts closer to the almost poetic script.

    When waking up or groggy, Moses often says “kill me now.” Given that two of the lines this character repeats are “n**** damn” and “kill me now” it almost seems that he is requesting his damnation. Moses is subconsciously sharing with the audience that he would rather die than stay in that neighborhood. This could’ve been fleshed out more if the “n**** damn lines landed better. Moses feels trapped and it’s being conveyed multiple ways. This is a real fear that people of color in New York City face, and this what Pass Over recreates in its language and set design. The corner that is the setting could easily be in Brownsville, Kingsbridge, Harlem, Washington Heights, or The South Bronx. The ubiquity of these street corners in real life helps build the idea that the brutality and poverty Kitch and Moses live through could happen anywhere.

    Kingsborough’s production of Pass Over has many things going for it. The show has great sound design that’s well complemented by a set that is about as close to NYC as you can get. And provides a thorough examination of what fear does to two opposing communities. But what prevents this production from reaching its full potential is the inconsistent acting that strips the script of its nuance. Instead of going somewhere, it passes over into nowhere.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: