A Riveting and Powerful Portrait of Love & Injustice
One of the noblest and distinguished careers is that of a police officer. Someone who daily places their lives on the line by taking an oath to serve and protect. To govern, according to the laws of the city, wherein they are assigned to serve their communities with justice. But justice behind the “thin blue line” can sometimes get distorted.
Shattered Globe presents one of the most prolific plays you will see this season, seemingly ripped from the headlines’ Sheepdog’ a riveting mystery by Kevin Artigue, playwright, TV, and film. The gut-wrenching two-hander play focuses on an interracial couple who are police officers love is tested when an officer was involved in a shooting of a black suspect. The pursuit of discovering the truth widens the cracks and devastation in their relationship as the investigation of police violence unfolds.
Set in Cleveland, Ohio, in the summer of 2017 street-smart Amina (Leslie Ann Sheppard), who is African-American, starts having doubts about her relationships. Her patrol partner and boyfriend Ryan (Drew Schad), a Caucasian shot and killed a black male. Ryan’s who is shattered by the incident, stories seem to change, and Amina gets concerned about how it’s affecting him and their future together.
Clipped from an article, one person wrote, “There are three types of people in this world: sheep, sheepdogs, and wolves.” The sheep symbolize the protected people, and the wolves are those that others need protection from by the sheepdog, i.e., police.
Police officers are assigned to watch over the citizen within their cities to prevent violence. Known as Cops, someone who captures, a word shorten from the British term “Cooper,” is considered the sheepdogs of the city. The citizens (Sheep) are those they protect from wolves (the crooks).
Sheepdogs understand violence is sometimes necessary to protect the sheep. With the violence within cities across America, gone are the days when Cops were known as a safe symbol of justice and peace. The sheep don’t like or trust the sheepdog; however, they understand its a necessary evil and tolerate sheepdogs’ existence to keep the wolves away.
Making negative headlines where the badge of an officer should be a symbol of the public trust, becomes a symbol of racial injustice, whereas ‘I feared for my Life” has become the men and women in ‘Blue’ mantra, justifying shootings of numerous black suspects.
Sheepdog is masterfully told by Amina who flashback to explain how the characters came to be where they are, as she narrates the play. The audience gets to see the two cops carefully falling in love, making plans to have children; however, a cautious cloud of observation stays with Amina as she doubts Ryan’s claim of being prejudiced against African Americans, especially after the shooting.
Under the astute and meticulous direction of Wardell Julius Clark’ Sheepdog,’ a heart-pounding story of the discourse of the men and women in blue was brought to an intimate stage. There is no disputation; instead, there’s Artigue’s well-expressed dialogue told through one person so there wouldn’t be any confusion. Clark, who has a wide range of directorial talent, who directed “Hoodoo Love” at Raven’s Theatre, and will soon be directing “Kill Move Paradise” at Timeline Theatre, continues to show the audience why he’s a rising star.
Sheepdog brings to life the problem today where black men are continuously viewed as being the wolf or a wolf and sheep’s clothing. Clark displays his genius and versatility in SheepDog by penetrating the mind of the viewer to see the injustice blacks in America still face walking as a target of racism and discrimination.
He also paints a disturbing subliminal picture of how symbolic prejudice views of blacks as wolves have caused us not to be able to purchase homes in certain areas. Or feel safe in white communities without feeling like you are a suspect; as a white police officer comes to investigate why you are there. This same kind of sheepdog mentality follows us into the theaters, as whites look at us with moral disapprobation, wondering who we are, why we are here, and I hope they don’t bring more of them.
Still, we bring the love of Dr. Martin Luther King, which has, like King opened doors and the minds of those who only see the color of our skin without noticing the content of our character.
Dubbed as ‘Officer Friendly,’ a person that you can count on to keep you out of harm’s way, many African-Americans now feel that they are the person that they are intentionally trying to harm. Throughout the years, the law enforcement code of ethics has been challenged. The question now becomes, who’s upholding the law, and has the sheep become the wolves in the community?
Let’s Play ‘Highly Recommend’ Sheepdog at Shattered Globe Theater.
Shattered Globe Theatre Presents (Theater Wit)
By Kevin Artigue
Directed by Wardell Julius Clark
January 16 – February 29, 2020
Filed under: ChicagoNow