I go from the wonderment and colossal budget of Groundhog Day to the basement of Lincoln Center to a play that has a teachers desk, a lunch table and a couch, a VERY white wall and some very harsh florescent lighting. And I will take the second play over the first any day. Pipeline was another play that I knew very little about before the show. I knew it was about a teacher (familiar ground) and about a black student trying to navigate life in a ROUGH urban school – or survive a very preppy private school (certainly much less familiar ground.)
When you have so little on stage – everything means so much more! This was so true of this play. You were left with acting – and a script that could really get inside of the teaching profession and the challenges that are faced – particularly in a school that has become a war zone! How does a single mother working as a teacher in a “rough” public school feel about placing her son in the middle of that very same school where an education seems more of the exception than the rule. Or does that same mother pile up all of her money and send her son to a school where more is promised academically but he as one of very few black students will be called upon to stand for and speak for black people everywhere. No good choice is found here.
Pipeline was played with such integrity and care that you were won over in the first moments. AND the story line refused to go down some predicable cliche road. It kept it simple, short and potent. I loved it. And as I left the theatre, I was left thinking how difficult it must be for a black woman to send her black son out into the world. The possibilities are frightening – on a trapeze without a safety net. How does a black woman do it?