Inola McGuire reviews The Buffalo Hero

The Buffalo Hero of World War I

A play written and directed by Kenthedo Robinson

The American Theatre of Actors 314th West 54th Street, 4th Floor, NYC

The first performance of the actors in this historic and enlightening period piece was dynamic, and the audience was elated to see the heroic character of a fallen Buffalo Soldier hero by the name of Wayne Miner of the 92nd Division of WWI.  The actors in this play are the following:  Darrell Wyatt, Ms. D, Bereket Mengistu, Challeane Mullgrave, Mark J. Robinson, Shatique Brown, and Timothy Patrick Walsh.

The audience sees the characterization of the soldiers, and in a few scenes, Private Wayne Miner exemplifies in honor and courage to the core of his being.  On the other hand, Private Seymoure’s character joins a rigid military with a history of institutional racism with his preconceived mindset that is very confrontational through the eyes of his fellow privates, his lieutenant, and his captain.  Captain Blu, III is a Caucasian man with a southern background, and he tells the privates what he thinks about them in the harshest forms of insults about their race.   Nonetheless, Private Rucker’s character, a functional illiterate who hails from the state of Texas, finds himself in the military.  There is room for everyone!  Private Miner teaches him some basic skills.  His encounter with the racist captain reminds him of all of the racism he had experienced and what was prevalent before, during and after WWI in the United States of America.  As a reminder, the privates find themselves in the state of Iowa of all places.

Private Seymoure’s character stays defiant and Captain Blu assigns him to the cleaning of the latrine on the army compound as a form of punishment for his insubordination to his superior.  Unfortunately, the private finds himself stuck in the latrine for a considerable period of time, and his constraining to inhale urine and feces becomes the brunt of the jokes among the Captain and his white counterparts.  This experience forces him to curb his enthusiasm and halt his militancy.  The audience witnesses his transformation in awe!  The uppity private becomes a much humbler soul.

Private Miner shares a spiritual connection with his mother, and he communicates with her in a special way when he is alone.  He discusses his experiences with her, and her wise words of comfort fortifies his spirit.  Yet, from time to time, he and the other privates receive mails from their home states; but Private Rucker’s character accepts help with the reading of his mail from Private Miner.

As the play progresses, the audience sees the blatant inequality in the treatment and the lack of preparation for combat for the private soldiers.  Lieutenant Clark who is a college graduate tries his best to standup to Captain Blu.  Captain Blu uses his caring nature for his men to manipulate any advantage he seems to gain over him.  The audience surmises that the military’s intention is to keep the privates as stevedores around the base.  With the insistence of the lieutenant on the privates’ behalf, there are substantial changes, but Captain Blu continues to delegate his orders to the lieutenant without hesitation.

In an environment where there is a war, there is the presence of the Red Cross to care for the wounded and the sick; and the American military had incorporated nurses of African descent to assist its soldiers.  Private Miner and his fellow soldiers find themselves in France, although they are not fully trained for combat.  Captain Blu continues his ill treatment of them, but Lieutenant Clark attempts to curtail his unreasonable behavior towards Private Miner and the other men at times.  Captain Blu’s states his requirements for unity, loyalty, and courage from his men.   Both Captain Blu and Lieutenant Clark stay in constant contact via radio with their superiors, and the soldiers on the front line suffer heavy casualties.  Now, the decision for the removal of the wounded and the dead in the trenches falls on the backs of Privates Seymoure and Rucker.  With the inability to drink to calm his nerves, Private Rucker becomes helpless and he is unable to cope with the situation around him.   Private Seymoure gets shot and Private Rucker leaves him at the site, but he returns to base and he reports to Captain Blu and Lieutenant Clark the latest development.

Captain Blu becomes irate and he begins to hurl insults at Private Rucker who ignores him.   Private Rucker seems frozen with fear and his ill preparedness for the misery of war.  Lieutenant Clark reminds Captain Blu of all the things that are wrong in their situation, and Private Miner offers to rescue his colleague, Private Seymoure with success as the audience observes his agony before he dies.  Yet, there is another problem to be solved by Captain Blu and Lieutenant Clark wants him to reconsider his actions.  Captain Blu wants to make a name for himself for a promotion in rank.  The shortage of ammunitions on the battle field, and the urgency for the delivery to the soldiers with the machine guns, can be the ideal opportunity for his promotion.  Private Miner volunteers to take the ammunitions to the soldiers.  Despite being wounded on his way to the battle field, he manages to deliver the supplies safely to the troops before he succumb to his wounds.  His effort saves the day!  Private Miner’s bravery allows his feat to live on as a Buffalo Soldier until the end of time.

The audience realizes that Private Wayne Miner died from his injury or injuries, and after his mother receives the notification of her son’s death; she instructs the officer to bury him in France.   The military surely complied with her wish.  Private Miner’s grave site is known to the public in France!

The reviewer’s response to the play and the developments that transpired during and after WWI in America.  African-American women gained acceptance in the Red Cross at the end of the war.   The play shows us that the more we think that things have changed in America, there is still a current of bigotry permeating among people of influence.  In the year 2019, America is divided and the politicians have not addressed this issue whole heartedly in order to enact lasting change.

I will surely recommend the play, “The Buffalo Hero, The Wayne Miner Story” to fellow theatre goers.  It is a must see production.  They are going to learn about the courage and honor of one man whose action probably change the course of history in WWI.  The playwright did an excellent job with his research and the storytelling of a hero’s story.

 

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