What is so funny about dealing with racism and diversity?
The answer was nothing, until the Black-Jew Dialogues came to Springfield College Monday night.
Emmy-award winning actor Ron Jones and veteran performer Larry Jay Tish gave their two-cents, and had the large crowd at the Marsh Memorial Chapel laughing in their seats, while they made jokes about a topic that often makes people uncomfortable.
With an array of profanity and racially-charged words used in the skits, the actors wanted the audience to not focus on the words but the message. “How often do we deal with this together?” asked Jones.
The trunk show went through a series of skits, including Jones and Tish dressing up as older women, both as their respective minorities. In the beginning, the point was made that both women were not to get along, due to their past, but at the end were exchanging cultural foods and laughs. It was the first of many points made through the dialogues.
One thing Jones and Tish added was history. Some was gory, but all was real, and that exemplified the stronger lesson made for the presentation.
While performing live, Jones and Tish included an interactive experience by using the audience as well as previously made videos to enhance the program.
To open the show the duo played a video of puppet versions of Jones and Tish asking random people on the street about the different groups of people in this world. The people varied from different ethnicity and religious groups, but all had very stereotypical answers. Right off the bat, the show was trying to display a message.
“These issues are not easy to deal with most of the time,” said Jones.
The exhilarating comedic performance had a tagline of, “So different. So alike. So who knew?” That gave the audience a chance to experience the life of a minority in America, while laughing and having fun.
The Black-Jew Dialogues started out as a title.
“It just popped into my head. I knew Ron, we were friends,” said Tish. “I had this idea about a show about blacks and Jews, and asked if he wanted to write it.”
Nine years ago, the two actors came to Chicopee to be away from outside distractions and write the script. Since then they have performed around 400 shows.
The Black-Jew Dialogues have traveled to places all over the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Jones and Tish perform in colleges, schools and theaters, with many different programs offered.
The pair was nominated by the Campus Activities Magazine for Best Diversity Program in America in 2014.
After an hour of skits and lessons, it was the viewer’s turn.
The turnout for the Black-Jew Dialogues filled Marsh Chapel, with student leaders and faculty, alike. The end of the night was handed to the audience for a discussion and Q-and-A. This led to many students speaking their minds, not only about what they just witnessed, but the issues we have here at our own campus of Springfield College.
Students opened up to issues dealing with improper talk in the dining hall, and things they have heard people say, either other people or even themselves. The Black-Jew Dialogues showed the student body that it is okay to talk things out and explain to people why certain terms and phrases are not acceptable.
Springfield College is focusing on topics like racism and diversity with seminars aimed towards the campus population and also the faculty here.
“It is a difficult topic,” stated Dean of Students David Braverman. “I learned more tonight; hopefully we all will.”
The crowd was a multiracial group, all coming together for the performance of the dialogues. While hearing personal stories student shared, the audience was open to everything, wanting to make a change to this campus.
The award-nominated actors really made an impression. They made people aware of issues that many face on an everyday basis, and provided incentive to step back and really want to make a difference.