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Spinning Into Butter

An exploration of racism at its volcanic core

Local audiences are bound to be offended by Rebecca Gilman's Spinning Into Butter -- and if they're not, they're missing the point. An exploration of racism at its volcanic core, Gilman's inflammatory play pulls no punches when it comes to brutal honesty. Butter starts cooking when a black student's receipt of racist threats at a homogenous Vermont college forces the arrogant, all-white administration to halt its daily agenda of internal micromanaging and petty meetings. Dean Sarah Daniels, the only human soul on staff, tries desperately to amend the situation. But despite a concentrated compassion and a true desire to help, she can't fight her nagging conscience, which leads her to nasty confessions of a downright racist nature. Butter stars an incredible cast, with the versatile Lorri Holt at the head. Holt's multilayered, self-indicting Sarah struggles with a masochistic case of all-consuming white guilt; her pompous ex-lover and co-worker Ross (comically played by Dan Hiatt) assists Sarah in exorcising the demons of bigotry from her brain, despite the fact that he -- and their grossly ignorant colleagues -- are guiltier than she'll ever be. Masterfully directed by Amy Glazer, this Theatreworks production punctures the bleeding heart of the white liberal, begging for a re-examination of internalized prejudice. The play does more, however, than implicate an embedded racism in all of us; it also opens the door to honest discussion, which may be the first step toward a healing long overdue.

 
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