You, the gentry, are probably reading this on your laptop or on your smart-phone in a coffee shop, or in your home. You are considering spending $24 to see a show of your liking, and really, if you’re going to spend that kind of money, you should spend it on seeing I Am the Gentry by Cara Gabriel. But keep in mind that this a luxury afforded only to you, the Gentry.
I Am the Gentry is a one-woman show about Cara Gabriel’s real-life story of living in a gentrifying neighborhood in DC. It is her cathartic reconciliation of feelings of guilt, fellowship, and the ugly reality of gentrification.Cara Gabriel promises to talk about class, race, education and inequality. She promises to make you squirm with self recognition and laugh and cry, and she fullfills her promise with eloquence and a natural gift for storytelling. Early in the show, she cries out in dreadful realization, “I am the gentry!” And by looking around you while sitting in the predominantly affluent, and white audience in a theatre space in Brookland, the same realization will dawn on you.
But this is not a confrontational piece, nor is it intended to make you feel bad or guilty as many other shows about gentrification often do. Cara Gabriel merely shares her personal experience about grappling with the realities of gentrification and allows you to draw your own conclusions. She’s never preachy, and she never comes off as one of those gentrifiers that “figured it out.”
Chelsea Thaler’s direction is seamless and direct. She keeps the audience engaged the entire way through with subtle and evocative use of space. The complexities of Cara Gabriel’s story are segmented into approachable and distinct “chapters” and Thaler keeps Cara compact and focused throughout the show and never lets her prattle. The sound design by Bryce Sulecki and scene design transport the viewer to the front porch of Cara’s home on the outermost fringes of Capitol hill with soundscapes of cars, children, and trains. It’s just the right combination of design and direction to let the story speak for itself without obfuscation.
I Am the Gentry
Written and performed by Cara Gabriel
Directed by Chelsea Thaler
Details and tickets
I Am the Gentry is a funny, enlightened, relevant, and thoughtful show. You will leave with a brand new outlook on the communities you populate. You will leave with a deeper understanding about an issue that is often ignored because of its complexity. But this show is not a magic bullet, nor does it ever proclaim to be. It is a point of entry, into actively thinking about gentrification. At the end, Cara Gabriel invites the audience to speak their mind on the issue (a brave decision on her part) where some members of the audience speak fervently on the issue. Though the conversation has been started in every major city in the U.S, it leaves you thinking “so, what is one to do?”
This show is rated a 5 by virtue of being the first and only show about gentrification I’ve seen that tackles this beast of a problem with such simplicity and awareness. Come to be challenged, or come to start a conversation. If that does not sound appealing, then come simply for the story. It is wholly appropriate for anyone who has not yet turned the mirror on themselves. I Am the Gentry is not to be missed.
I am the Gentry