By Michael Harriot
Unfortunately, The Root’s regular Game of Thrones reviewer has the day off. The following recap of Sunday’s episode is transcribed from Calvin Patterson, the head barber at Valyrian Cutz, a barbershop located in South Central Westeros.
What’s up, bruh?
I know y’all heard they killed that black girl down in King’s Landing yesterday. I’ve seen the video. She was unarmed, not bothering anybody, and they cut her head clean off in front of her boyfriend while he just stood there like he didn’t even have any balls or anything.
Yeah, he was one of those Unsullied. You know—one of those brothers who do security for that stupid white girl with the dragons. I know her. We went to high school together. She always hung around with the black people trying to convince them to vote for her for class president because she was the “breaker of chains.” She goes by “Khaleesi” now, but she used to call her self K’Lisa Stormborn Targaryen. Last I heard, she had moved out of town and married Aquaman.
Talmbout she’s the “Mother of Dragons.” Well, it looks like someone needs to call Child Protective Services because she done got two of them killed. The last time she went down there fucking with Cersei, they shot a dragon out of the sky with a big ol’ bow and arrow. But Daenerys went right back there with no armor or nothing!
She had Robby Baratheon’s break baby, Gendry, with her and I know he has his blacksmith certification because we went to Seven Kingdoms Community College together. Seems like he could’ve made a bulletproof vest for the Dragons or something. But you know white privilege will make them think they are indestructible.
You want it low with a bald fade on the sides, right?
Anyway, this is how I heard it went down:
Everything started at the homegoing services for the people who died at the white supremacist march on Winterfell. I ain’t never been to a funeral for white folks but from everything I’ve seen on television, white people give their eulogies at the gravesite. They say Rev. Jon Snow really preached but I figured he would. After all, he is born again. Nobody fainted, caught the Holy Ghost or said “Lord please take me!” like we do at our funerals.
After the funeral, they went to the repast, except I heard that no black people were allowed. I’m serious! You know they don’t play that race-mixing shit up North! If you think I’m kidding, tell me this:
Why were there no black people in the cafeteria at Winterfell?
They even let Wildings eat there but, apparently, the Unsullied and the Dothraki have to eat in a different lunchroom. They probably were afraid that the black people would waste all of the wine when they poured out a little liquor for their dead homies. I doubt the Unsullied wanted to be around those drunk white folks anyway. They probably had their own repast with some pound cake, lemon pepper raven wings and some brown liquor.
You want me to shape your beard up?
Speaking of beards, my man Tormund got his heart broken so hard that he took his army and went home after he heard Brienne let Jamie smash her virgin cakes.
Yeah, Jamie Lannister supposedly got so drunk at the repast that he went to Brienne of Tarth’s hotel room and gave her some Lannister loving. After he realized that Brienne wasn’t gonna do all the freaky stuff Cersei used to do, he tried to ghost Big Brie. But you know it’s hard to sneak out of a room when you have a metal hand, so Brienne put on her Valyrian Secrets nightgown, walked outside in her bare feet and caught him in the parking lot trying to get out of Dodge.
When Jamie broke her heart, they say she had one of the ugliest cries since that dude on Intervention. I tried to tell Brienne that she should get with Tormund, but you know how it is. They always curve the guy who really likes them because they want the cute dude with money, titles and a gold hand.
But you know what they say:
“If you love someone, set them free. If they come back to you ... You get Jamie’s sloppy seconds.”
Part or no part?
Did you hear about Gendry proposing to Arya Stark?
Yeah! Daenerys gave Gendry a title and 40 acres and a mule down in Storm’s End. He immediately ran outside and asked Arya to marry him. Arya gave him a kiss and told him that she wasn’t about that “lady” life. Her only goal in life is to take her horse down to Old Kings Road and kill until she can’t no more.
That girl has no name and—you know what Biggie said:
“You can’t turn a ‘No’ into a housewife.”
So Arya and the Hound are headed to King’s Landing with nothing but some swords and two fresh cans of whip-ass.
Hold still, I’m about to get the dragonglass clippers to do your edge-up.
You heard the rumors about Jon, right?
Jon found out that he was the rightful heir to the Iron Throne and wasn’t a bastard after all. Dany didn’t want him to tell anyone but he met Sansa, Bran and Arya under the Weirwood tree to smoke a blunt. Jon was going to tell them but he punked out and asked Bran to do it. Well, you know Bran is always high as a three-eyed raven so he spilled the beans. Plus, I feel like Bran is a little resentful because they haven’t installed any ramps at Winterfell.
Of course, Sansa can’t stand Daenerys, so she told Tyrion, who told Lord Vaerys, who I’m convinced is the son of Rosie O’Donnell and Curly from The Three Stooges. Lord Varys, the “Master of Whispers” can’t hold water, so he’s probably going to put that shit out on a fake Twitter account and everyone is gonna know, which will cause chaos. This is all part of Sansa’s plan to climb to the top because you know what Littlefinger used to say before Arya did her Night King dress rehearsal on his throat:
“Chaos is a ladder.”
Speaking of Sansa’s plans, I feel like this is all part of an ethnic cleansing plan to make the Seven Kingdoms into an all-white country. First, they sent the Dothraki out to get slaughtered by the white supremacist walkers at the Battle of Charlottesville Winterfell. Then Daenerys only took 34 Unsullied with her to talk to Cersei at the King’s Landing Summit. It felt like a setup.
Jon is on the way with a few soldiers from the North but who knows when they are going to get to King’s Landing. I’m pretty sure he’s using Waze and traffic is pretty bad on the interstate during this time of year. Now Dany’s mad, but she ain’t got shit but one dragon, 17 Dothraki soldiers and a handful of Unsullied commanded by a man with a broken heart.
Now, Missandei, the last black person in the Targaryen administration, is dead. I hope her funeral is a closed casket because you know those white folks at the Westeros Funeral Home are gonna fuck her hair up if it’s an open casket funeral. They don’t know what to do with her 3C hair.
Here’s the mirror. How does that look?
That’ll be $25.50.
If you see any Unsullied, make sure you tell them Valyrian Cutz is the only black barbershop in King’s Landing. If they manage to breach the wall, we’ll give them a special bereavement price because they all have the same low Caesar haircut anyway. Let Daenerys know that we do eyebrows, too. But the dragon has to stay outside.
I’ll see you next week.
""""One of the most mortifying moments I experienced in my theatrical career was when I was asked to bring the entirely African-American cast of a new musical we were workshopping, a new piece by an African-American librettist and composer, across the street to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and up into the plush boardroom so they could perform a song or two for the board of directors. I wanted to say something, but I didn't. For one thing, it would take an invaluable 45 minutes to an hour out of the creative team's limited time together. But... every year we had to do the same old song and dance for the board to remind them that yes, we did do new plays and musicals, so yes, it was sometimes a good idea to expose the board to new voices, to the vibrancy of an exciting work in progress.
You all know where this is going, don't you? I led the team in. The talent in that team! The writer/composer himself and the cast, lauded veterans of the stage and the most promising members of the next generation of acting giants. And there was our board. White, as white as can be, white white white white. And very comfortable. They'd just been served lunch, I believe. My theater spared no expense in pleasing our board and catering to their demands (oh my god, I'm feeling such rage right now! I'm pretty sure we had a staff member who was mostly dedicated to help our richest board members get house seats to shows on Broadway and the West End. But I digress...)
The only black face in the audience seated at the conference table? The only person of color? The head of our education department, of course. My heart went out to her.
The cast sang a song from the show. They did it. And they brought it. Because they were and are professionals. And the very pillars of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion reverberated down to the parking lot. It was breathtaking.
And I had just been complicit in the remaking of a scene for the millionth time: black bodies and voices entertaining white audiences, an institution raising money on the backs and voices of black bodies.
I was too mortified to apologize to our writer and to our cast, none of whom, I should add, expressed even an iota of discomfort. They were professionals, and they shone. And come to think of it, they'd probably all become accustomed to this scene. "It's just how theater works," they might have thought with a shrug of their shoulders. Or maybe they seethed inside, for the millionth time, when all they were trying to do is workshop a new musical.
Well, I apologize sincerely now to our writer and those actors. I wish I had had the courage to put my foot down. It is not how theater should work.
I quit the American theater on Valentine's Day 2016, so I've been out more than four years now. And honestly I don't plan to return, which is why I can write with such candor.
The heart of the problem, my friends, is with the non-profit structure, which is capitalism on steroids. Who are the bosses ultimately in an American institutional theater? The board of directors. Who are the board of directors? For the most part, those members of the community not with the strongest attachment to the art form but those with the deepest pockets. Often they're really not members of the community. They often just drop in. They are sometimes mere tourists.
It's no wonder that that board meeting was held in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The theater, like most American theaters, had built its board of directors on the old opera model: You get the richest folks together, offer them galas and house seats and receptions and private recitals and showings (for which artists often don't get paid extra, mind you), you pamper them and make them feel more special and entitled than they already do, and then they'll write you big checks to support the kind of art they like, the kind of art they can bring their kids and grandkids to. AND they--not the artists, not the community--get to hire the institution's leadership.
It is a rotten model. Rotten to the core. How can any artistic institution claim to be working for and in the community with that model?
It's got to be torn down. It's got to be reinvented. And I have no idea what the next model will be. I really don't. And no, honestly I don't think government is the solution frankly. Some of the most bloated, self-satisfied, decadent theater I've ever seen was in Germany, where it was almost fully government-funded. Lots of bells and whistles and provocations and completely soul-dead.
I see amazing and galvanizing lists of demands recently being made and posted by theater artists of color. These are vital demands. But they don't address the central issue. As long as the ultimate bosses of an artistic institution remain the community's deepest pockets, nothing will change. Nothing. You'll be putting band-aids on a gaping wound. Sorry, but it's true.
So please figure something else out. Maybe for a few years you just avoid the institutions. You've already started. In the pandemic, so many of you are making amazing art without an institution. Find those who truly adore your work and ask them to fund it. Screw non-profit. Form a corporation and value your art art-making as a resource that profits you, your viewers/audience and your community. I have no idea.
But please don't return to a new version of the old. After the virus, after he's out of office, after police reform and nationwide conversations about race, after, after, after, begin something new. I can't wait to see what it is!”
Words: Pier Carlo Talenti
Video: Griffin Matthews
April Yvette Thompson