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Re-Enacting History

The election of Barack Obama imbues The America Play with new meaning.

It's not for nothing that Rick Martin's arresting set design is reminiscent of a Victorian-era daguerreotype, complete with a proscenium-sized wooden picture frame: As much as we have the power to make history, it remains, at least to a degree, as fixed as an old photograph.

The cover of the November 7 issue of People depicts a euphoric picture of the president-elect and the headline "Barack Obama Makes History!" If Parks' surreal, multilayered carnival sideshow of a comedy tells us anything about the United States' first black leader, it's that he isn't likely to "make history" by mimicking his dead white forebears. That's a sure path to digging an early grave. Then again, failing to show proper deference to the figureheads of white mainstream history could also be detrimental to Obama's future. Let's hope he doesn't get shot.

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