With Humor, 'The Mountaintop' Explores MLK's Human Side | WABE 90.1 FM

With Humor, 'The Mountaintop' Explores MLK's Human Side

Jan 19, 2017

Katori Hall’s play, “The Mountaintop” puts its audience inside of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s room at the Lorraine Motel the night before his assassination. Restless and struggling with a speech, he orders some coffee. Enter the mysterious maid, Camae.

The heart of the play juxtaposes two people from widely different backgrounds in terms of class, gender and upbringing, and as actress Cynthia D. Barker pointed out in an interview with Lois Reitzes, “Camae also serves as counterpoint to Dr. King’s perspective on the movement.”

Barker plays Camae in Aurora Theatre’s current production of “The Mountaintop.”

“Camae represents the people of Memphis, people who absolutely respect Dr. King, revere Dr. King, and people who are frustrated, restless and tired," she said.

Camae is also hilarious, but “The Mountaintop” director Eric J. Little points out the importance of humor. “When things make us laugh, we think we aren’t thinking or that makes it less important,” he said. “But truth is found in jest.”

The play also delves into Dr. King’s very human flaws.

“When I first saw this play, there are some parts that were jarring for me because Dr. King was and still is one of my heroes,” said Little.

“When we so often want our heroes to be perfect, it extricate from responsibility ourselves,” continued Barker. “But, when we see that they are just like us, when they are just human beings who happened to do extraordinary things, it charges us to take responsibility in our own lives.”

“The Mountaintop” runs through Feb. 12 at Aurora Theatre.

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