The Inheritance: A play for Generation Woke
Theatre is there to make us feel. That much we know. But how often do you get up from your seat and leave
an auditorium feeling truly moved, better informed, and genuinely inspired?
The Inheritance is that play.
Born at the end of the AIDS crisis, I am of a generation that grew up oblivious to its existence in history. Many of us knew we were different at a young age, before we could understood what our feelings meant or find the words to express them. And by the time we reached the age where we were able to accept it and share it with our friends and family, the majority of us still had no idea about those who came before us - what they went through, what they fought for, why they died.
Rent was the first I knew of HIV and AIDS. For others, The Inheritance will be the gateway to our history.
It’s fair to say learning is far from the number one motivation for seeing any production. This one, however, intelligently weaves an education in crucial elements of LGBT history into its fabric. It cannot cover everything, but does what it can across seven and a half hours and six acts.
‘There are no gay men my age.’ - Henry Wilcox (John Benjamin Hickey) shouts at one of the younger characters. It is perhaps the most sobering revelation to younger members of the audience who never experienced and could not, until now, comprehend the pain and the loss of the 1980s and 90s.
The Inheritance does not stop there. The scene I most respect playwright Matthew Lopez for comes early in part two. A political clash between Republican Wilcox and Democrat activist Jasper (Hugo Bolton). This could so easily have become a scene soaked in democrat bias, skewed towards liberal theatre-goers. But Lopez balances the debate so eloquently through Henry Wilcox, shunning the easy opportunity to paint a two-dimensional right wing villain. He’s human. And this, as so many lefties fail to understand in these times, is healthy debate, without resorting to the petty name calling all too often seen in one cursory glance at social media.
Making the world a better place is not easy, nor is it a job for one person. If this play teaches us anything, it is that doing your bit is enough. And if we all did something, anything, things would not be the way they are. Be more Walter. Be more Eric.
Jason I: So what happens next? What do we do for our community now that the people in this room have mostly gotten what they need from the Obama years?
Jasper: Now let’s talk about trans rights. Let’s talk about bullying in schools.
Tristan: Let’s talk about addiction, about the resurgence of HIV among gay men of colour.
Jason I: Let’s talk about suicide, violence, homelessness. These are the things that will require just as much of our attention as marriage equality did and these are the things we have the chance to make some real progress on.