Home Arts & Entertainment Director Jason Marlett brings “The Whipping Man” to GRCC’s Spectrum Theater

Director Jason Marlett brings “The Whipping Man” to GRCC’s Spectrum Theater


By Rachael Ocampo

Jewish Theatre of Grand Rapids has prepared another thought-provoking night of theater for playgoers.

“The Whipping Man,” written by Matthew Lopez and directed by Jason Marlett, will run Oct. 17, 19, 20, 24, 26 and 27 at Spectrum Theater on Grand Rapids Community College’s campus.

Photo by Jacquelyn Zeman
Noah King-Bates as John and Darius Colquitt as Simon in “The Whipping Man”.

The play tells the unique and intricate story of a wounded Confederate soldier who returns home at the end of the Civil War. When Caleb finds his family missing and his house torn apart, he fears he will die without proper medical attention. Although no longer bound by duty, his family’s former slaves, Simon and John, stay to help tend their old master’s wound “because it was the right thing to do,” said Brad Sytsma, the actor who portrays Caleb.

The irony of a Jewish family owning black slaves leaves a bitter churning in the viewers’ stomach. Although Caleb’s family claims to treat their slaves “better than most”, playgoers will quickly realize this is not true.

Forced to stick together, the three men grapple with their shifting roles in each other’s lives as their old identities of slaves and master dissipate with the end of the war. Family issues that haunt their past threaten to break through and alter the men’s definitions of faith, family and trust forever.

Director Jason Marlett anticipates deep questions will rise from viewers’ voices.

“It’s gonna cause conversation,” Marlett said. “It is a good evening of theater, but not easily digestible. It takes a little time to cycle through this stuff.”

“The Whipping Man” will start at 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. on Sundays. Ticket prices are $20 per person, $18 for senior citizens and can be purchased by calling the Spectrum Theater box office at (616) 234-3946.

Check back later for pictures.

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