By Alex Weaver
Carole Eglash-Kosoff the multi-award-winning playwright of When Jazz Had the Blues returns to the LA stage with a new historical drama, The Double V. Early in the years of World War II, the Double V Campaign was a national movement for both victory in the war and victory in the battles for racial equality in the United States. Eglash-Kosoff’s characters tell the story of how a young man from Wichita Kansas’s letter to a newspaper initiated a series of changes that gave black Americans their first taste of equality in a society that had always denigrated them.
The majority of the playwright’s work confronts America’s white mentality of passivity and erasure of African American’s culture and history. More than a million African Americans who served in World War II due to the success of the Double V’s Proportional Representation campaign returned home expecting more racial equality but that didn’t happen. The broken promise birthed frustrations that eventually evolved into the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s… sit-ins, Freedom Riders, school integrations and the Selma March.
The Americans portrayed in the play could only imagine the great strides forward and crushing slides backward that black Americans have experienced since their campaign… when asked what she thinks they’d say today the playwright said:
We have made strides, but we need to do more… much more. Our bloated military budget pulls from society money that could provide better education, better health care, and improved infrastructure. The disparity of income in the United States, the worst in the world, disadvantages the entire country.
Philosopher George Santayana said; Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. The function of theatre is sometimes to remind and teach us about history. Eglash-Kosoff has used meta-theatre technique before where actors break the fourth wall to address the audience directly through this dramatization of true events mirroring their current experiences through today’s lens. She explains,
When you are trying to dramatize historic events to generations that are unaware of either the events or the circumstances that gave rise to them, it’s important to put them in context and connect them to the present… i.e. how did we get here… why is today how it is? This story technique helps get you there.
US Congressman Elijah Cummings said “When we’re dancing with the angels, the question will be asked, in 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact? Did we stand on the sidelines and say nothing?”
Almost all of Carole’s body of work addresses humanity in its most idealistic, angriest, and most passionate through focusing the narrative on racial intolerance. When asked what in her life inspired her activism on racial inequality issues she answered: The truth is, I don’t know. South Africa was illuminating… a white minority, believing it was superior, tormented its black majority for nearly a half-century while AIDs decimated the population. That it later struggled to evolve into a ‘rainbow’ society without war is a lesson we all need to understand… both its successes and its failures.
Asked that with all that she has experienced and seen what her message to the future is with this play: We aren’t going to get to an egalitarian society anytime soon. I find it amazing that our society has accepted gay lifestyles more easily than racial equality. I’m happy for the former but tearful at the latter. But we need to continue to try. Disliking people because of their skin color has never made sense.
Carole Eglash-Kosoff has published five books. After losing her husband, mother, and brother in the same month she volunteered with the American Jewish World Service and traveled to South Africa to teach in the black townships. Her first book The Human Spirit – Apartheid’s Unheralded Heroes told the story of The Mamas, who spent their adult lives making South Africa a better place for those who were the country’s most disadvantaged. She focused on the violence and injustice perpetuated by the white majority against the black majority in South Africa. The Human Spirit – Apartheid’s Unheralded Heroes was later produced as her first play at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles. Her second novel, When Stars Align, a historical fiction novel, dealt with the love of a mixed-race boy and a white girl in the turbulent era after the Civil War became her second play. Winds of Change, her third novel, continued that saga. Sex, Drugs, & Fashion, her next book, fictionalized the decades she spent working in the apparel industry. Her fifth book, By One Vote, is dramatized non-fiction, telling twelve true stories of events in American history, shaped by a single vote.
The Double V is at Matrix Theatre (7657 Melrose Avenue, 90046) through Sunday, Nov. 24. Performances are on Friday and Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 3pm. Ticket prices are $40 (VIP Reserved $50, Students $20 (groups of 8 or more email [email protected]).
Purchase tickets online at: www.OnStage411.com/doublev
The phone Reservation line is: 323.960.7776
Running time: 100 minutes.