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The Antidote for Valentine's Day: Amiri Baraka's Dutchman

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If you're single, you may be feeling choked by all of the Valentine's Day patter going around. Valentine's Day has been trending on Twitter for at least a week now. Even if you're happily in a relationship, you might be a little disgruntled with the crass commercialism of the holiday. If that's the case, we have just the play for you.

In recognition of Black History month and the death of Amiri Baraka, Baraka's play The Dutchman is being staged at The Sherry Theater in North Hollywood this weekend. Producer Pauline Schantzer recognizes that the play still holds resonance with its overt themes of sexuality and racism 48 years after it first debuted in New York and adds that she doesn't have a problem making people uncomfortable.

If you aren't familiar with the play or haven't read it since college, the action takes place on a subway car in New York City in the early 1960s. The two main characters are Lula, a young white woman, and Clay, a young black man. Lula alternates between seducing and mocking Clay. How do sex, seduction and race all come together?

You'll have to see the play because there's no spoiler in this article. The Sherry Theater has gained recognition in recent years in part through its connection with Playhouse West. James Franco is currently teaching acting at the theater. Artistic Director Scott Haze named the theater after his mother in honor of her unwavering support for him and he's starring in Franco's latest film, Child of God.

Producer Pauline Schantzer plays the role of Lula with Terrence Hodges as Clay. Director Nathan Swain has staged the production to really push at the Fourth Wall and bring the audience right up close to the action. This staging promises to heighten the effect of the sort of queasy discomfort that the audience experiences with Dutchman. This may not be a selling point for everyone, but if you love theater that makes you think and provokes a reaction, you'll find Dutchman very intriguing.

The production runs February 14th through 16th. Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets. And in a small concession to romance, there's a special treat for the love birds in the audience on the 14th.