Les Miserables, Black Lives Matter, and the Complacency of White Liberal Theatre Communities

Les Miserables, Black Lives Matter, and the Complacency of White Liberal Theatre Communities

Do you hear the people sing?
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“There are accepted revolutions, revolutions which are called revolutions; there are refused revolutions, which are called riots.”

--Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

I was in tech week rehearing to play Fantine in a production of Les Miserables when the 2015 Baltimore riots broke out. I lived in Baltimore City, but the children’s theatre I was performing with was located in the suburbs. It was mayhem backstage – everyone was on their phones, trying to stay updated, wondering if schools would be closed the next day – and then we’d return onstage to sing "the song of angry men."

Meanwhile, our city was in flames.

Well, that’s a bit hyperbolic. A CVS store was up in flames, as violence had broken out after the funeral of Freddie Gray, who was murdered by Baltimore City police officers not long before. Most of those involved in the uprising were unarmed middle and high school students, and most of the damage was to property, not people. Some officers were injured, but none were killed.

But of course, it still wasn’t an ideal situation. Local businesses were hurt, and a state of emergency was declared. I know I was disappointed, because huge peaceful protests against police brutality had been happening in Baltimore all week, and yet of course CNN didn’t bother to show up until the uprising. It’s hard to tell young people whose loved ones are being killed that they shouldn’t engage in violence if it’s the only tactic that actually garners national attention.

One Day More, the iconic Act 1 finale of Les Miserables, was different that night; we all felt it. It suddenly occurred to me that I was in a musical about a group of young students who – after years of enduring inequality, poverty, and police brutality – resort to violence. The heroes of this story stage a revolution, aiming their guns and animosity towards abusive police officers.

And this musical is revered by white people.

One of the most heart wrenching moments of the show is the death of little Gavroche. A child vagabond we grow to love for his wit and tenacity, Gavroche is murdered by armed police forces while singing his signature song, “Little People.” He is unarmed and unmistakably a child, and yet as he approaches the police line is he shot multiple times. Gavroche dies mid-sentence, the audience left wondering what more he could have sung had his life been valued.

His death is tragic – unbearable – and all of our audiences, cast members, and parents agreed. It was the tear-jerker moment of the show. And yet very few people seemed to notice the similarities between his death and Tamir Rice’s; somehow, Gavroche’s wounds carried more weight to them than Michael Brown’s or Freddie Gray’s. I looked around at those weeping, wondering if they would ever bother to mourn the losses of those in our world, too. Their silence was deafening, their hypocrisy maddening.

You watch Javert mistreat and brutalize innocent French citizens, and you despise him. You watch Jean Valjean – a criminal swept up in the effects of mass incarceration and an unjust prison system – amend his ways, and you forgive him. You watch the people of Paris struggling to survive, bearing the burden of uneven distribution of wealth, and you empathize with them. You watch students rise up – violently – against these forces of oppression, and you cheer them on. When they are killed by militarized police forces, you mourn for them. Not once do you utter, “Well, they should have formed a peaceful demonstration if they didn’t want to be killed,” or “Javert was just trying to do his job,” or, “These young men were dangerous criminals,” or even, “You can’t fight hate with hate!”

But if their bodies were black, if they were wearing hoodies, if the setting were not 19th century France, but rather 21st century America…you would find ways to justify Javert’s actions. You would call these young men thugs. You would start quoting Martin Luther King jr. in a vacuum, to invalidate their struggle. Or you’d refrain from saying anything at all.

Wouldn’t you?

If not, congratulations. But the majority of responses to the Baltimore Uprising I saw from the same parents and kids who cheered Enjolras on every night were those of invalidation and dehumanization, or at least gross superiority. When young, handsome white men rebel, it’s viewed as inspiring. When young black people rebel, it’s viewed as despicable, or at least terribly misguided.

I like to think of theatre communities as progressive and accepting, but the truth is that we have a long way to go. Though the extent of which varies from company to company (and geographically), even the most liberal theatre companies are largely inaccessible, and cater their art towards old, rich, white people. At best, theatre companies seem to consist mostly of well-meaning white people who care about affecting change, but in reality take very little action to do so. At worst, they consist of performers whose practice is to put themselves in other people’s shoes, and yet refuse to extend that same empathy to our society’s most disenfranchised.

We must do better. We cannot claim to be a progressive community, or celebrate accepting differences, if we don’t work to put our words to action. Not only do we need to make our stories accessible to a wider audience, but we need to internalize the actual messages of the stories we tell. Our country is in a defining moment right now, and we cannot opt out of making a statement, or choose to make statements selectively when they benefit us. We must harness our art as a weapon of change, and speak (or rather sing) out.

Let’s be clear: I am someone who believes in the power of peaceful protest. I hope that we can continue to respond to our nation’s injustices in such a manner. But it will only be effective if we expand our empathy, create solidarity, and join in.

So let me ask you:

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?


Cover Image Credit: gotoricks.blogspot.com

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50 Quotes from the Best Vines

If you're picturing the vines in your head, you're doing it right
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In 2017 we had to say goodbye to one of the best websites to ever roam the internet: Vine. In case you have been living under a rock since 2013, Vine was -(sad face)- a website and app that took the internet and the app store by storm in Winter 2013. It contained 6-second videos that were mostly comedy- but there were other genres including music, sports, cool tricks and different trends. Vine stars would get together and plan out a vine and film it till they got it right.

It was owned by Twitter and it was shut down because of so many reasons; the viners were leaving and making money from Youtube, there was simply no money in it and Twitter wanted us to suffer.

There's been a ton of threads on Twitter of everyone's favorite vines so I thought I'd jump in and share some of my favorites. So without further ado, here are some quotes of vines that most vine fanatics would know.

1. "AHH...Stahhp. I coulda dropped mah croissant"

2. "Nate how are those chicken strips?" "F%#K YA CHICKEN STRIPS.....F%#K ya chicken strips!"

3. "Road work ahead? Uh Yea, I sure hope it does"

4. "Happy Crimus...." "It's crismun..." "Merry crisis" "Merry chrysler"

5. "...Hi Welcome to Chili's"

6. "HoW dO yOu kNoW wHaT's gOoD fOr mE?" "THAT'S MY OPINIONNN!!!.."

7."Welcome to Bible Study. We're all children of Jesus... Kumbaya my looordd"

8. Hi my name's Trey, I have a basketball game tomorrow. Well I'm a point guard, I got shoe game..."

9. "It's a avocadooo...thanks"

10. "Yo how much money do you have?" "69 cents" "AYE you know what that means?" "I don't have enough money for chicken nuggets"

11. "Hurricane Katrina? More like Hurricane Tortilla."

12. "Hey Tara you want some?" "This b*%th empty. YEET!"

13. "Get to Del Taco. They got a new thing called Freesha-- Free-- Freeshavaca do"

14. "Mothertrucker dude that hurt like a buttcheek on a stick"

15. "Two brooss chillin in a hot tub 5 feet apart cuz they're not gay"

16. "Jared can you read number 23 for the class?" "No I cannot.... What up I'm Jared, I'm 19 and I never f#@%in learned how to read."

17. "Not to be racist or anything but Asian people SSUUGHHH"

18. 18. "I wanna be a cowboy baby... I wanna be a cowboy baby"

19. "Hey, I'm lesbian" "I thought you were American"

20. "I spilled lipstick in your Valentino bag" "you spilled- whaghwhha- lipstick in my Valentino White bag?"

21. "What's better than this? Guys bein dudes"

22. "How'd you get these bumps? ya got eggzma?" "I got what?" "You got eggzma?"

23. "WHAT ARE THOSEEEEE?" "THEY are my crocs!"

24. "Can I get a waffle? Can I please get a waffle?"

25. "HAPPY BIRTHDAY RAVEN!" "I can't sweem"

26. "Say Coloradoo" "I'M A GIRAFFE!!"

27. "How much did you pay for that taco?" Aight yo you know this boys got his free tacoo"

28. *Birds chirping* "Tweekle Tweekle"

29. "Girl, you're thicker than a bowl of oatmeal"

30. "I brought you Frankincense" "Thank you" "I brought you Myrrh" "Thank you" "Mur-dur" "huh...Judas..no"

31. "Sleep? I don't know about sleep...it's summertime" "You ain't go to bed?" "Oh she caught me"

32. "All I wanna tell you is school's not important... Be whatever you wanna be. If you wanna be a dog...RUFF. You know?"33. "Oh I like ya accent where you from?" "I'm Liberian" "Oh, my bad *whispering* I like your accent..."

34. "Next Please" "Hello" "Sir, this is a mug shot" "A mug shot? I don't even drink coffee"


35. "Hey did you happen to go to class last week?" "I have never missed a class"

36. "Go ahead and introduce yourselves" "My name is Michael with a B and I've been afraid of insects my entire-" "Stop, stop, stop. Where?" "Hmm?" "Where's the B?" "There's a bee?"

37. "There's only one thing worse than a rapist...Boom" "A child" "No"

38. "Later mom. What's up me and my boys are going to see Uncle Kracker...GIVE ME MY HAT BACK JORDAN! DO YOU WANNA SEE UNCLE KRACKER OR NO?


39. "Dad look, it's the good kush." This is the dollar store, how good can it be?"

40. "Zach stop...Zach stop...You're gonna get in trouble. Zach"

41. "CHRIS! Is that a weed? "No this is a crayon-" I'm calling the police" *puts 911 into microwave* "911 what's your emergency"

42. "WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? "

43. *Blowing vape on table* * cameraman blows it away* "ADAM"

44. "Would you like the spider in your hand?" "Yea" "Say please" "Please" *puts spider in hand* *screams*

45. "Oh hi, thanks for checking in I'm still a piece of garrbaagge"

46. *girl blows vape* "...WoW"

47. *running* "...Daddy?" "Do I look like-?"

48. *Pours water onto girl's face" "Hello?"

49. "Wait oh yes wait a minute Mr. Postman" "HaaaAHH"

50. "...And they were roommates" "Mah God they were roommates"


I could literally go on forever because I just reference vines on a daily basis. Rest in peace Vine

Cover Image Credit: Vine

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15 Students You're Unfortunately Going To Run Into

This is one wild place.
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High school is basically the weirdest place in the world. It's an influx of all of the humanity's best, worst, and in-between. And while there's no way to predict for sure all of the freaks you'll meet, here's just 15 you either know or will know.


1. The Stoners


Some of them are problematic; some of them aren't. They're quite the wide range, but they always have a dead look in their eyes, make a lot of inappropriate jokes and like to play card games.

2. The Geeks

Put your second generation Macbook Pro-Gameboy fusion away, Daniel. No one wants to watch Naruto with you.

3. Football Players

At my school, we used to have a dance studio. It's been turned into a weight room, but they kept the mirrors. So now every time you pass the room, it smells like sweat and testosterone while shirtless guys stare at themselves, flexing to prove their heterosexuality.

4. Every Other Sport

We get it, you're tired, and you hate your coach. If you hate it so much, quit. But you won't because if you do then you won't have anything to complain about to others.

5. Hype Beasts

No, I will not scream at this pep rally because I do not care about school spirit. Go away, I have a headache.

6. Vape Nation

While I thank you for smelling like candy or fruit as opposed to smelling like a chemical fire like the stoners, please stop juuling in the bathroom; I just want to pee.

7. AP Students

Sweetie, please take a nap and have some green tea, you're stressing me out. See number one for more help on relaxing.

8. Freshman

If you're a freshman and you're thinking, "Oh, I'm not that bad!" then trust me. You are. Someday you'll look back on yourself during these times and wish you were never born.

9. Phone Ninjas

Often football players or hype beasts, these people have their phones surgically attached to their hands and somehow never get caught.

10. Teacher's Pet

Buddy, literally everyone but the teacher is perfectly aware that you're just mooching for a better grade or for your phone back.

11. Kinky Kids

No, I would not like to hear about your weekend. Go sit with someone else before I catch something.

12. Theater Kids

Stop screaming at me to buy tickets to see you play the That One Background Character in the school play. I don't even know you.

13. The Orchestra Kids

They constantly feel like their under attack, and they're not entirely wrong. Need to see number one to relax as well.

14. Band Kids

Like orchestra Kids except way more annoying and permanently stuck in the freshman phase.

15. Has Their Own Car And Everyone Knows It

Hey buddy, you're 10 minutes late, and you have Chik-Fil-A. It doesn't take a genius to put two and two together.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedias Common

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