We Gotta Get Off Da Block
(Directed By Spike Lee)
Playwright Antoinette Nwandu depiction, Pass Over is about two black homeless men dreaming of getting off the street corner of 64th and King Drive; a notoriously violent block right in front of the Parkway Garden housing project in Chicago. Seeking a better life is one dream that they can only imagine, which leaves them feeling trapped by the environment, poverty, and the violence that surrounds them.
Pass Over was one of the most thought-provoking & provocative plays at Steppenwolf Theatre last year. It debuted in June of 2017 with a talented group of actors Jon Michael Hill (Moses), Julian Parker (Kitch), and Ryan Hallahan (Mister/Ossifer) exploded with electrifying chemistry that was performed brilliantly on stage.
The play was so captivating that it caught the eye of the famed filmmaker Spike Lee who brought us his version of it in a cinematic play with the drama of Live Theater to Amazon Prime with intimate luminosity.
Lee's adaptation from stage to screen didn't fall short in film-making because it still gave you that shared dominance of pulse-quickening theater with the out pore of never-ending realism.
The intensity that was brought out from the film was due to the film being shot in Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre during the show's summer 2017 run where you get to see the reactions of the audience that was mostly black that was bussed to Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater from some of the poorest neighborhoods across the city.
Spike Lee through Amazon Films secretly filmed Steppenwolf's Pass Over last year to help bring this remarkable and thought-provoking and somewhat controversial Antoinette Nwandu play to national theaters for viewing. We had the chance to see the preview at the Arclight Cinemas Chicago Theater where many of Steppenwolf personnel were able to see the film and speak with the actors. Unfortunately, Lee wasn't present at the debut, but many were able to see his adaptation of Steppenwolf acclaimed play.
Pass Over was as troubling to the spirit on film as it was at the theater. The compelling drama where two African-American males seeking to pass over from the injustice they have witnessed throughout their lives are hindered by the violence within the neighborhood and those that support to protect them in blue.
What we witness is that many are still blinded by news clips unaware how those of a different race lives are affected by racism and the lack of an equal chance to succeed. This film just like the play isn't trying to deflect blame but provide an educational perspective where other factors like racism, inequality, and injustice can cause young men like Moses and Kitch to be treated unethically.
We applauded Steppenwolf Theatre for its stance against racism through plays and their willingness to allow Spike Lee and Amazon Films to bring this fantastic production to others to witness. I guarantee you will be talking and thinking about this emotional play.
We highly recommend this film but be ready to ask yourself this question; Is it indeed "A Wonderful Life," for all?
The cast includes:
Jon Michael Hill (Moses)
Julian Parker (Kitch)
Ryan Hallahan (Mister/Ossifer)
BY ANTOINETTE NWANDU
DIRECTED BY DANYA TAYMOR
DIRECTED BY SPIKE LEE
Amazon is set to release Pass Over as an Amazon Prime Exclusive on April 20th.
Filed under: ChicagoNow