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Geva’s “Smart People” examines race

Local News

“Smart People” is on the Fielding Stage at Geva Theatre through October 22.

The play centers on four characters. Folami Williams, who plays Valerie, and Jake Lee Smith, who plays Brian, discussed the show Monday during News 8 at Noon.

“It’s a comedy, first of all, about four hot, young, smart people all circled somewhere around Harvard University, coming together, talking with each other, yelling at each other, loving each other, and ultimately discussing our prejudices and stereotypes which can ultimately lead to the idea of racism,” said Williams. “I think we get those ideas just by being able to connect with these four characters, living their lives.”

“Smart People” is set during the 2008 election. “I’m a Harvard professor right around the time Obama is getting elected into office and it’s sort of a comedy centered around these very smart people trying to have this discussion about race in America and what’s possible and where we need to go,” said Smith. “The crux of the play is that there’s these four people who are very intelligent but they can’t get on the same page about race and about what we need to do. So it’s like almost comforting and invites the audience in because we have these top minds who just can’t seem to crack it and just stumble all over themselves.”

The play was well received by audiences in Ithaca before making its way to Rochester. “Audiences really enjoyed the show there,” Williams said. “It was so much fun. Every night was so much different, but every night we had an audience to like play with and get feed back from, it was nice.”

Smith said he and his fellow performers are able feed off the audience each night. “It’s different every night. You know people come in and you get different demographics and you just have to ride that wave like, okay, I think people kind of like me right now, and then I’m like, oh I’m starting to lose them, and they think I’m a racist. Every night is different and you just have to stay on your toes and you just never know what’s going to happen.”

For tickets to “Smart People” call (585) 232-GEVA or click here.

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