John Guare’s new play is astonishing, raucous, and panoramic. A Free Man of Color
is set in boisterous New Orleans
prior to the historic Louisiana Purchase
. Before law and order took hold and class, racial, and political lines were drawn, New Orleans
was a carnival of beautiful women, flowing wine, and pleasure for the taking. At the center of this Dionysian world is the mulatto Jacques Cornet, who commands men, seduces women, and preens like a peacock. But it is 1801 and the map of New Orleans
is about to be redrawn. The Louisiana Purchase
brings American rule and racial segregation to the chaotic, colorful world of Jacques Cornet and all that he represents, turning the tables on freedom and liberty.