GAL APPROVED! Chevalier Makes Music. Plus: Suzan-Lori Parks’ Plays for the Plague Year Is Riveting!By Delaina Dixon | April 21, 2023 | Gal Approved
Chevalier Conducts the Screen
He’s waited nearly 300 years to have his story and music told! The movie Chevalier tells the story of Joseph Bologne, the son of an enslaved African woman and a Frenchman who grew up to become a force to be reckoned with. Raised in the best schools in France, Bologne excelled at it all. A fencing-swordsmanship-marksman, Bologne made his biggest mark in music. This gifted virtuoso violinist impressed Marie Antoinette so much that she gave him the title of Chevalier de Saint-Georges. He would go on to compose music fervently, his most famous opera being Ernestine. But as a biracial man in the late 18th century, someone was always trying to dim his light. The film examines these moments and Chevalier’s larger-than-life persona with humanity and all too painfully reminds us that so much of the struggle Black and brown people endured in yesteryear is still a part of today. It’s a fast-paced film, and you may find yourself wanting even more Chevalier once the movie ends. May we suggest reading The Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Virtuoso of the Sword and the Bow, a comprehensive biography recommended by Chevalier writer Stefani Robinson, which delves deep into the composer’s prodigious journey.
Chevalier, now playing in theaters.
Remembering a Pandemic Life
The Public’s Writer-in-Residence Suzan Lori-Parks did what any Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright would do during the Coronavirus pandemic, she wrote a play a day. Now her musings have become Plays for the Plague Year, an anthology that chronicles our collective experience and the hope and perseverance that occurred throughout that troubling year. In her collection of short vignettes, Parks share the personal details that she, her husband and then 8-year-old son endured during the pandemic: the delay of a TV project she was working on at the time; her son’s stir-craziness being cooped up in their one-bedroom New York City apartment; her husband’s bout with long covid. The other plays share the stories of others who left indelible memories during the pandemic—those who lost their lives, some to the disease like Dr. Li Wenliang and Herman Cain; way too many to police violence like Breonna Taylo (say her name), George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. Several actors, including Parks herself, perform skits, monologues and songs that become an emotional, joyous, heartwrenching and triumphant retrospect of a time few of us will ever forget.
Plays for the Plague Year, now playing at Joe’s Pub in New York City.
photo credit: Chevalier, Searchlight Pictures. Plays for the Plague Year, Joan Marcus.