The Battle Creek Enquirer
(Originally published by the Battle Creek Enquirer on September 15, and used with permission. The opinions expressed by the Battle Creek Enquirer do not necessarily represent those of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.)
A one-woman show can be a funny thing, especially when that one woman plays 10 roles.
About 200 people gathered Wednesday night at the Binda Performing Arts Center for a free performance by Sarah Jones of her show, “A Right to Care,” which was commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to explore the way racial, economic and ethnic disparities can impact the health care system.
The staging of the hour-plus show was simple enough. In it, Congress calls on a multicultural panel of regular citizens to testify on the health care system, relating their own personal stories. The group was made up of both males and females and included representatives from a wide swath of the country’s minority population: Latinos, a Native American, a Jew, African Americans and Asians.
As each member — all portrayed by Jones, a native New Yorker — testified, a pattern emerged. Most began with a disarming joke. For instance, when Jones was a Native American whose last name was Weaselhead, the character drew a laugh by saying he had a great name for politics.
Those jokes often were followed by a criticism of the system, serving as a sugary coating for her bitter pills.
For instance, as Dr. Patel from India, Jones criticized the system for the mass marketing of medicine.
“You can serve the public and run a business without running an assembly line,” she said.
Summer Wells, a Battle Creek resident, called the show “awesome.”
“The point of views were very realistic,” she said. “It wasn’t one-dimensional.”
“A Right to Care” already has been performed in Houston, Boston, Atlanta and San Francisco. After her stop in Battle Creek, Jones will take the show to Grand Rapids and Philadelphia, among other cities, according to foundation officials.
The show recalled Jones’ past work. Her breakout one-woman show, “Bridge and Tunnel,” earned her wide praise, with the New York Times calling parts of her performance “flawless” and Entertainment Weekly describing Jones as “ridiculously talented.”
Dr. Hanmin Liu, chair of the foundation’s board of trustees, was on hand for Wednesday’s performance. He said the show spoke to many modern issues, allowing people “to look at our differences and in a way honor those, and in another way, see that’s not what connects us.
“At the end of our day,” Liu said, “our differences are a small part of who we are.”
Marilyn Crawford, also from Battle Creek, called the show “excellent, very touching.
“Each time (Jones) put on a jacket and went into a different character, it was like there was actually a different person on stage,” Crawford said. “Amazing. It was so realistic. My God. I’ll never forget it.”