The Shipment – at the Barbican


“Not afraid to tackle thorny issues of race and religion, Young Jean Lee is New York’s most adventurous downtown playwright. She began by setting herself the most uncomfortable challenge she could imagine: to make, as a Korean-American, a work about African-American identity and politics.

“Developed in collaboration with an all-black cast, this biting satire invites audiences on a rollercoaster ride through the assumptions, clichés and distortions that arise when exploring the experience of African-Americans today. Cultural caricatures, from a foul-mouthed comedian to a drug dealer-turned-rapper superstar, are parodied in a series of variety numbers reminiscent of a minstrel show.” – from the Barbican website

From Young Jean Lee’s artistic statement: “When starting a play, I ask myself, ‘What's the last show in the world I would ever want to make?’ Then I force myself to make it.”

American responses to The Shipment:

“Cultural images of black America are tweaked, pulled and twisted like Silly Putty in this subversive, seriously funny new theater piece by the adventurous playwright Young Jean Lee. Ms. Lee, who is Korean-American, consciously set herself the uncomfortable task of creating what she calls a ’black identity-politics show’... Ms. Lee sets you thinking about how we unconsciously process experience – at the theater, or in life – through the filter of racial perspective, and how hard it can be to see the world truly in something other than black and white.” – Charles Isherwood, New York Times

“This is so ingenious a twist, such a radical bit of theatrical smoke and mirrors, that, in rethinking everything that has come before ... we are forced to confront our own preconceived notions of race. And to agree with Lee that we may not live long enough to purge ourselves of them.” – Hilton Als, New Yorker

“Lee confirms herself as one of the best experimental playwrights in America. Her language manages to be both feverishly strange and rigorously intellectual, and she directs her charismatic, talented cast with economy and theatrical dash.” – David Cote, Time Out New York

“[The Shipment explores] just how much skin color continues to frame the way we see each other – even in a post-race, Barack Obama–electing America. It’s an early example of what will hopefully be an avalanche of smart, fearless work that brings the same fresh feel to the artistic conversation about race that is said to imbue today’s politics.” – Kai Wright, The Root

Young Jean Lee is among the most exciting and challenging playwrights working today. In his citation for the 2010 American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Awards, Academy member Romulus Linney wrote: “Young Jean Lee’s plays are fierce, challenging, brazenly theatrical, and then transcendentally lyrical. Her wit is both biting and hilarious. Her subjects [are] big, bold, and daring, but truthful and humane. In seven years, as author and director, she has created a theater like none other, and with it, a fresh dramatic language for the multi-cultural American stage.”

After an initial phase when I purchased a block of seats for members who prepay, all these seats have now been paid for and allocated – so from this point onwards all members who want to join us will need to book your own ticket direct with the theatre.

If you’re open to sitting next to another member, feel free to mention your seat number in the comments below, for group members who might want to book a neighbouring seat.

Please contribute £1 on arrival (to help defray the approx. £100 per annum that Meetup charges to run a group) – thanks in advance.

In the days immediately prior, I’ll circulate details of arrangements to meet before the performance. We will stay on in the Barbican cafe-bar afterwards, for drinks and a conversation about the play.

                                       Photos by Paula Court / AJ Zanyk

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  • Mike

    Interesting piece. I felt the stereotypes were exaggerated, but maybe that was deliberate. Overall it was enjoyable, with some very funny scenes and performances.

    June 14

  • Ariel B.

    HI Jane, I will likely stay for a drink after as well. Thx!

    1 · June 13

  • Richard C.

    I'll follow you to Beech St after the show.

    1 · June 12

  • Laura V.

    Hi I'll be staying afterwards too

    1 · June 12

  • Claudia B.

    Message received, thanks. I will stay afterwards.

    1 · June 12

  • Mike

    Hi Jane, I'll stay for post-show drinks.

    1 · June 12

  • Jane

    I've just sent a message to all with details of arrangements to meet up prior to the play. Please let me know if you don't receive it.

    June 12

  • Laura

    Hello, I'm really looking forward to seeing this play! This is my first time purchasing a ticket through this group, how do I know what my seat number is?

    Thanks,

    Laura

    May 16

    • Laura

      Hi Jane, that's great. Thanks for organising. I'm looking forward to it.

      1 · May 16

    • Claudia B.

      what time are you going to be there Jane? 15 minutes before? I haven't received any message yet, but as I know you already it's fine.

      June 12

  • Mike

    As of 8.30am there's one seat left, if anyone is interested in attending.

    June 12

    • Laura

      Hi Mike, I have a friend who is keen if this ticket is still available? let me know. thanks, Laura

      June 12

    • Mike

      Hi Laura, you need to contact the Barbican directly or book online. Good luck !

      June 12

  • Viktor

    Ah, missed the last ticket, wont be able to join you guys :(

    June 12

  • Justine

    Hi Jane, you were right tickets for this were selling fast and have completely sold out. So will not be attending this one.

    June 5

    • Jane

      Justine, it seems there may be one ticket left - take a look

      June 6

    • Justine

      Hi Jane, thanks for letting me know I managed to get the last ticket seat H3.

      June 6

  • Danson

    Mix up with getting my ticket situation so sadly I won't make it to my first meetup/play with the group.

    June 5

    • Jane

      Sorry to miss you Danson. Another time before long, I hope

      June 6

  • Ariel B.

    Managed to get one of the last two tickets still available for this, my seat is A8. Haven't been to the Barbican theatre yet so quite looking forward to this!

    1 · June 6

  • Jane

    All four tickets that I booked initially with the Barbican (B18-19, C1-2) have now been paid for and allocated – to Laura Varolo, Claudia Blanco, Laura, and me. From this point onwards all members who want to join us will need to book their own tickets direct with the theatre.

    May 16

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