Wiletta Mayer, a veteran actor beginning rehearsals of a play. She is an attractive, middle-aged African American woman with an outgoing personality. She made a career out of playing stereotypical black roles but aspires to be cast in parts more deserving of her rich talents. Initially, she readily gives advice to John Nevins, a novice actor, on how to ingratiate oneself, to stay on good terms with the management no matter how loathsome the production may be. When rehearsals begin, however, she cannot adhere to such a strategy. Her white director uses tactics that humiliate her, and the script calls for the black characters to make statements and perform actions that offend her racial pride. Con-sequently, Wiletta becomes an outspoken critic of the production.
Al Manners, a theatrical director in his early forties, working on his first Broadway show. He is an energetic, confident man with a patronizing manner. He unknowingly triggers Wiletta’s critical evaluation of the production by demanding that she find a sense of integrity about her work. Although he considers himself to be a liberal, he treats black and white cast members differently and is insensitive to the objections the black members have concerning the script. As the racial strife becomes more intense, he exposes his own deep-rooted racial biases.
John Nevins, a novice actor. He is an African American...
(The entire section is 607 words.)