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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 482

The beginning of the play makes it clear that there will be intense satire throughout. The first sketch takes place on a slave ship where the speaker is dressed in a hot pink stewardess uniform. She says:

Welcome aboard Celebrity Slave-ship, departing the Gold Coast and making short stops at...

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The beginning of the play makes it clear that there will be intense satire throughout. The first sketch takes place on a slave ship where the speaker is dressed in a hot pink stewardess uniform. She says:

Welcome aboard Celebrity Slave-ship, departing the Gold Coast and making short stops at Bahia, Port Au Prince, and Havana before our final destination of the Savannah.

Hi, I'm Miss Pat and I'll be serving you here in Cabin A. We will be crossing the Atlantic at an altitude that's pretty high, so you must wear your shackles at all times.

By mixing the horror of a slave ship with the cheery tone and character of a stewardess, George Wolfe displays a serious juxtaposition between what the audience expects and what they get. This sets the tone for the rest of the play. The sketches deal with very serious issues but they are often approached with humor or used in a way that an audience wouldn't expect.

Another thing Wolfe does is criticize both black and white society. In another sketch, he has two beautiful people speak to the audience. They say:

Girl: The world was becoming too much for us.

Guy: We couldn't resolve the contradictions of our existence.

Girl: And we couldn't resolve yesterday's pain.

Guy: So we gave away our life and now we live inside Ebony Magazine.

Girl: Yes, we live inside a world where everyone is beautiful and wears fabulous clothes.

Guy: And no one says anything profound.

The people are advertisements and magazine images rather than real individuals. They say that there are drawbacks—no social life, no sex, and sometimes they feel they're suffocating—but still they invite the audience to join them. It reads like a commentary on avoiding pain by burying yourself in media. That's what the characters promise: no pain.

By the end of the play though, Wolfe has a message for the audience about creating an identity and a life outside of the pain of the past. He makes it clear that from his perspective you don't have to give up your identity, but you also can't let it control who you are. His character, Topsy, says:

And here, all this time I been thinking we gave up our drums. But, naw, we still got 'em. I know I got mine. They're here, in my speech, my walk, my hair, my God, my style, my smile, and my eyes. And everything I need to get over in this world, is inside here, connecting me to everybody and everything that's ever been.

So honey, don't waste your time trying to label or define me.

The rest of the cast joins Topsy to say:

'Cause I'm not what I was ten years ago or ten minutes ago. I'm all of that and then some. And whereas I can't live inside yesterday's pain, I can't live without it.

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