In the writing and portrayal of the character of Leo Frank, are we meant  at any time to suspect that he might have committed the crimes he’s accused of and then convicted, and if so why?

Why did the creators choose to insert the chain gang scene that so powerfully grabbed the audience’s attention in the second half? And why did the director choose to end the play with the symbolic image of Leo Frank’s hanging with the African-American performers also stepping up onto the hanging “block?”

Is this  show essentially a “love story” as Keegan markets it? A show about the unequal treatment of African Americans in the shadow of the more publicized “lynching” of a Jewish man? Or a show that reveals white Southern humiliation by the loss of the Civil War and the anger all around that continues to fuel our conversation?

Why do you suppose the creative team chose to amplify all the singing in the show in such an intimate space and how did this affect your experience of the performance?

2 comments on “Parade”

  1. Martin Wittel Reply

    Sorry I missed out on the discussion following the performance tonight–but will respond to your questions here.
    — I don’t think we ever were really meant to suspect Leo is guilty (although perhaps the sudden darkness after Mary has been paid, but before she has left the stage, might inject a measure of ambiguity. Think it simply was a scene change.)
    — Believe the chain gang scene served to address one possible response to marginalization, namely, indifference to the fate of someone who has not been marginalized (in this case, Leo, resented both due to his position prior to his arrest–and also for the support he received from the North during and after his trial.) Hostility trumped honesty when Dorsey is questioned by the governor. (The sentiments there echoed in a much harsher form those of the “silver-polishing” song that preceded the governor’s party.) As for the final image in “Parade,” perhaps it is intended to acknowledge that the vast majority of people lynched were African-American even though this piece focuses on the case of a Jewish northerner.
    — Through no fault of the performers, I don’t think this works as a “love story” since the surrounding material must overpower this aspect.
    — Perhaps amplifying the singers helped in achieving the right mix between singers and orchestra playing behind a screen…. It didn’t bother me, although I generally would prefer for singers to project (without amplification) as in olden days. But those are olden days.

    Years ago I heard a very arresting piece on NPR regarding an exhibit of postcards of lynchings–later turned into the book “Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America.” The NPR report, which described brutality which often went far beyond hanging, was chilling. That it was not unusual for lynchings to be conducted in towns, during the day, with women and children attending (and with postcards hawked to mail to friends and relations) was even more chilling. I couldn’t find audio of the particular report I’d heard, but here’s a link to a much shorter item from when the exhibit opened in Atlanta:
    As an appropriate way to end this evening, I’ll provide a link to Billie Holiday singing Abel Meeropol’s “Strange Fruit”:

  2. Melinda Reply

    I think this was fundamentally a story about the South trying to maintain its dignity and importance and I take my cue from the two notes from the directors at the beginning of the program, coupled with the strong, loud (wall of sound, as one of our members said) when they sang of the red hills of Georgia. The Jews, the successful businessmen, were taking away the Christian white’ preeminence in the community through their financial success and their hiring of blacks. The Jews coming to Atlanta as a mercantile class seemed to be displacing the old Civil War “gentility.” The chain gang and the last scene illustrated the discrimination against both groups and yet the black man who was only an accessory was already on the chain gang, while the white man was still awaiting his fate.

    The play illustrated the disparate treatment of the whites and blacks in the effective first scene in the second act and the way the blacks occupied positions on the periphery

    to the extent it was to be a love story, I just don’t think it convinced me. Leo and Lucille’s passionate embrace after she had gotten his punishment stayed seemed like a sudden conversion after what had seemed a somewhat rancorous and cold marriage.

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