Black Theatre Troupe showcases 'Barbecue,' a comedy about intervention with a cast twist

By Tom Maxedon
Published: Tuesday, October 25, 2022 - 3:20pm
Updated: Friday, November 4, 2022 - 11:24am

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Ryan L. Jenkins and Katie McFadzen
Black Theatre Troupe
Ryan L. Jenkins (left) and Katie McFadzen both play the character Lillie Anne in Black Theatre Troupe’s “Barbecue.”

Black Theatre Troupe in Phoenix is currently showcasing a play called “Barbecue.” It’s centered on one of the most typical of family outings.

But the comedy features a dysfunctional and atypical set of characters who try to perform an intervention on one of their own and an interesting plot convention that includes cast changes from one scene to the next.

The family is played by two casts: one Black and one white, and tells the story of a barbecue hosted by a group of siblings that sets the stage for an intervention for one of their sisters, who is struggling with addiction.

Ryan L. Jenkins and Katie McFadzen both play the role of Lillie Anne, who kind of leads the intervention. Jenkins is an actress and model living in Phoenix; and McFadzen is an actor, director and teaching artist who has worked with Childsplay Theater Company for almost 30 years.

Hear Ryan L. Jenkins and Katie McFadzen with host Mark Brodie on The Show

The play is written by Robert O’Hara, who wanted to explore the pervasiveness of reality TV shows like “Intervention,” a show which depicts addicts and the impact their illness has on those around them.

Director Ron May said it also investigates the color line as the cast changes from scene to scene between white and black actors playing the same characters with the effect of addressing important questions.  

“When we see a Black family dealing with an addiction, how far can they go before we say ‘oh that’s a caricature or that’s a stereotype?’ and the same for any white family,” said May. 

The play also induces a feeling in the audience akin to the German concept known as schadenfreude — or taking pleasure in other people’s pain.  

May also said, “I think the biggest thing is that sort of question of ‘why are we as a people so drawn to other people’s suffering for entertainment?’”

“Barbecue” runs through Nov. 6 and you can hear more about the play on KJZZ’s Word podcast.

Black Theatre Troupe
"Barbecue" by playwright Robert O'Hara runs until Nov. 6, 2022.

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