Barber Shop Chronicles raises deep, eternal questions
The Barber Shop Chronicles in the National Theater is the kind of play which engages you before the real action starts.
When you arrive and take your seat, the actors are already on stage, dancing, making jokes, acting as barbers to the guests and inviting you to join their party.
No surprise that greeted this way, the public welcomes each joke with long lasting applauds, feeling the personal connection to the actors.
The play introduces the viewers to a bunch of stories of black men from different parts of the world: we start in Africa, move to South America, then to the USA and Europe. The play shows different realities, but the same kind of problems; the struggle to keep their identity, a new generation forgetting their native languages and switching to English, raising children and finding roots, choosing career paths and the fight to survive. These topics appear during confessions between barbers and their clients.
The scenes take place in modern barber shops, but the questions raised for discussion are eternal. Each character has only five to ten minutes of monolog to show his point of view, and in most cases, it’s enough to feel empathy.
The black population is still economically and socially unequal with white people even in Africa, and that’s why the last talk between an experienced barber and a young boy, dreaming of an acting career, has such power.
The biggest topic they raise is what it means to be a ‘strong black man’, and there is no answer as more than one option can be applied. Each character reveals something new about himself, and the audience gets a chance to see the struggle and the power of these people, so different and yet so similar to each one of us.
The play invites us to be part of the action, not just observers. It invites us to take action in the measures for mental health and national problems, which we all share by living in the same world.