That Which Doesn’t Kill Me …

Grudges suck. No matter who you are or what you’ve accomplished, they can overshadow it by reducing you to a petty, jealous buffoon. Take Michael Jordan. The most gifted basketball player the game will ever know spent his NBA Hall of Fame induction speech settling decades-old scores against people who hadn’t believed in him. One was his high school coach, who’d cut Jordan from the varsity team. Said the petty, jealous buffoon, “I wanted to make sure you understood: You made a mistake, dude.” (That’ll show him!) Now take Andre Salvage. He got a similar message from a nun at Catholic school while growing up amid poverty and violence in South Central Los Angeles: No Enlightened People Have Ever Come Out of the Ghetto. It left such an impression that he named his solo piece after it. But he isn’t looking to settle scores. From “poverty” and “violence” he arrives at “peace,” “humor,” and “understanding.” (No wonder he describes himself as a mix of Richard Pryor and the Dalai Lama.) With his alter ego, Cleo, he walks through scenes from his upbringing, illustrating how he learned right from wrong, found his true path, and eventually gained perspective on how all things fit together. Characters include “an army of black women in the beauty shop” who give him guidance as well as tough love, a group of boys who plan to commit a robbery, and his first love — who dies. Salvage, now a business consultant who also teaches martial arts to children, has learned to give back to the community that tried so hard to take from him. And Mr. Jordan, if you’re out there, go see this show and we’ll pay for your ticket.
Fri., Aug. 26, 7 p.m., 2011

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