Ophelia’s Jump’s production of “Black Super Hero Magic Mama” by Inda Craig-Galván, which opened Saturday, explores the grief of an African American mother after her son is killed by a white police officer. In it the mother withdraws from the real world into a fantasy world where she is a superhero.
“I remember watching the rallies and seeing the mothers of some of the victims leading a prayer or speaking to the community and I thought at the time that it was brave of those women,” Craig-Galván said. “In the next moment I realized they shouldn’t have to be put in that position that is expected of them not just by the media, but now by society and it is an unfair burden to put on already grieving mothers.”
Craig-Galván added that she wanted to write a play about how an African American mother does not show up the way she is expected to and instead chooses to grieve, be angry and be alone.
Director Kathryn Ervin explained why Ophelia’s Jump chose “Black Super Hero Magic Mama” as their last play for the season.
“It is very timely. Especially right now with the increase in the number of shootings particularly in the hands of law enforcement and the Black community it is a timely play and it is very beautifully written,” Ervin said.
Ophelia’s Jump Productions theater houses about 99 people and has five digital screens on the stage.
The play begins when the word hope appears on two of the digital screens on stage.
Sabrina Jackson, played by Kristi Papailler, walks into her son Tramarion Jackson’s room while he is sleeping and begins picking up his room and makes comments about the Harry Potter book Tramarion threw away. The scene ends with Sabrina leaving the stage.
Knowing where the characters are in the beginning is confusing because the only props on the stage were a pillow, a box titled trash, a pair of green converse and a backpack.
The lights turn off and then turn on to signalize that it is the next morning. Tramarion, played by Stephen Diaz, stands up and starts practicing for the quiz show he is going to be on later that day. Sabrina walks into the room and Tramarion convinces her to let him go to a pizzeria with his team after the quiz show. Sabrina agrees and the scene ends.
The next scene begins when the word orphaned is shown on the digital screens.
Sabrina runs into Tramarion’s room and lays down on what seems to be his bed because there is nothing on the stage besides a pillow. In the background reporters Connie Wright, played by Joanna Connie Tan, and Tom Blackman, played by Rob Dobson are reporting about a 14-year old who was shot and killed by police officer Dave Lester, played by Aaron Pyle.
Once again it is confusing as to where the characters are because the only props used were two microphones and the digital screens were black and white. A newscaster background could have been used to help set the scene.
Throughout act one there are flashbacks of Tramarion and Flat Joe working on their comic book and of Tramarion and Coach Corey Bracket, played by Frank Hunter practicing for the quiz show he was going to be on.
The flashbacks before the news broadcast that reported Tramarion’s death were confusing because Tramarion was still alive. It would have been less confusing for the audience if the outfits were changed for the flashback scenes.
Act one ends with Sabrina walking in and finding Tramarion and Flat Joe’s comic book under his pillow and saying she is the Maasai Angel, which is the super hero in their comic book.
Act two begins with Sabrina being in her fantasy world and fighting Human Hyena, Tom Blackman and Lady Vulture, Connie Wright. Sabrina defeats them and the scene ends.
Throughout act two Sabrina defeats the Deep Thinker, Coach Corey Bracket, Death Trap, Dave Lester and Black Superman, Flat Joe.
These scenes were all based in different locations and it was easy to to recognize this because the digital screens were used as backdrops.
After Sabrina defeats the villains Tramarion walks in to tell her that she needs to leave because if she stays she will not be able to find a way out. He also tells her that Flat Joe needs her and he walks out.
Sabrina goes back to the real world. Lena and Flat Joe walk into Tramarion’s room and Sabrina hugs Flat Joe.
Act two ends after Flat Joe shows Sabrina that he got their comic book printed, which he titled “The Adventures of the Maasai Angel” by Joseph Asagai Hughes aka Flat Joe and Tramarion Jackson.
The lights turned off and then turned on so that the eight actors could take their final bow.
The show runs through Oct. 16 at the company’s theater at 2009 Porterfield Way, Suite I, in Upland.
For more information, visit, opheliasjump.org.
Samira Felix can be reached at email@example.com.