This week's arts and culture column begins like this:
“Reading with Patrick” is a wonderful memoir.
Author Michelle Kuo, Harvard-educated and the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, volunteered after graduation to teach high school in a small town in the Arkansas Delta.
Initially, she thought to energize her black students, to educate them to the way their race has been so cruelly bowed down, to rouse them to action.
She showed them photos of lynchings, which were passed around in horrified silence until one boy put his head down on his desk and mumbled, “Nobody want to see that.” She introduced them to Malcolm X — they were bored. Obama likewise elicited yawns.
Deciding to try one last time, she introduced Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 play, “A Raisin in the Sun.”
“It was a hit,” she wrote. “The angry banter between Walter and Ruth, husband and wife, got laughs. Their complaints about living in a crowded house got nods. Ruth’s despair over discovering she’s pregnant made the room go silent. And the students universally loved the grandmother. All seemed to know her.
“Born in Mississippi and religious, she scolded her son for wanting to start a liquor store, slapped her daughter for saying there is no God, and yelled at her daughter-in-law for wanting an abortion. As I assigned parts, the students clamored to be cast in her role. ‘She don’t play,’ they said admiringly.”
Through April 8, Pasadena’s The Noise Within (“Classic Theater, Modern Magic”) is staging a stellar production of this American classic.
READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.