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Missing the Message at Straight White Men

Young Jean Lee's play Straight White Men gave us a lesson and a look into privilege through not just the story that unfolds, but the opening speech from Person in Charge #1 (Kate Bornstein) and Person in Charge #2 (Ty Defoe). When attended the show several nights ago, I admired the message we were given and the way in helped the audience look at the otherwise typical story differently. I also had tweeted a picture of my playbill the evening I attended.

Having seen Lobby Hero at the Hayes Theater in the spring, I was excited to be back there since I think it's one of the best Broadway theaters, despite being the smallest. It was the reaction I saw on my Twitter feed later, that was alarming, given the message at the beginning of the show. For respect of this person's privacy the name and profile picture have been covered, but the tweets remain intact.

As I noted in my review of Straight White Men, the opening speech says that the music is not meant to be for everyone. One thing I felt was that it almost immediately opened the audience's eyes to the way privilege would be examined by making some people, including this person on Twitter, uncomfortable in a setting that they are usually comfortable in.

I found myself alarmed and unsettled when I saw this, but also found it ironic. This person, and probably others of a similar mindset, want the pre-show to be a part of the experience they can enjoy. What they seemingly missed is the message that is given by Kate Bornstein and Ty Defoe when the show actually begins.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and privilege is complicated as shown in the play. But by expecting everything to be catered to your tastes is missing what Kate and Ty say: that not everything will be how you want it to be.

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