The True Story of Cops Killing a Black Teenager — Told With Hip-Hop Choreography
Rhaechyl Walker and John "Faahz" Merchant in Dreamscape
Photo by Carrie Mikuls
The most pregnant line in Dreamscape, playwright-director Rickerby Hinds’ gemlike physical-theater requiem, comes when Myeisha Mills, a 19-year-old black girl (a movingly effective Rhaechyl Walker) passed out at the wheel of her disabled car with a .38 on her lap, is approached by Riverside police (nicely embodied by co-performer John “Faahz” Merchant, who also plays the county coroner): “The first thing I thought was, ‘I wish I was a white girl,’” she says stoically.
What comes next is no surprise to anybody with memories of Tyisha Miller — the real-life model for Myeisha — who was killed in a 1998 fusillade of semiautomatic gunfire by four Riverside cops ostensibly on a call to help her.
Delivered in a series of stream-of-consciousness memories both provoked and punctuated by each of the 12 shots as they rob the girl of her barely lived life, Rickerby’s text poignantly puts a human face to the victims of more recent cop-on-black violence in a lyrically imagined, time-dilated account of Myeisha’s final, life-embracing thoughts.
But it is Carrie Mikuls’ harrowingly evocative hip-hop choreography that packs a good deal of the piece’s visceral — and political — punch. Set to a mostly beatbox score created at the mic by Merchant, the kinetic vitality of the dance that accompanies each flight of Myeisha’s reverie repeatedly turns spasmodic as the shots penetrate her body and draw her back to the scene of her death.
GO! Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., downtown; through May 17. (213) 489-0994, thelatc.org.
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