Ishmael Reed’s new satire trolls right-wingers and liberals alike.

The reviews are in — The Conductor is a hit!

Ali M Collins
4 min readMar 16, 2023

Hey, fam!

Everyone is talking about Ishmael Reed’s latest play, The Conductor, about the San Francisco school board recall. (Read the Village Sun’s latest review here.)

Read the full review from the Village Sun here. Brian Simmons as journalist Warren Chipp, left, and Imran Javaid as Shashi Parmar, his former boss now on the run to Canada, in “The Conductor.” (Photo by Jonathan Slaff)

Reed’s play could not come at a better time. The Conductor tackles timely issues involved in culture wars targeting school boards across the nation: “parent's rights” attacks on school board members and specifically women educators of color.

These are precisely the issues I’ve been highlighting in my podcast, Just Talks. Listen to school board researcher, Dr. Carrie Sampson, explain exactly this!

Dr. Carrie Sampson, associate professor of Education at Arizona State University, talks with me on the Just Talks Podcast. See sneak peeks like these and previous episodes on my YouTube channel.

The play also tackles how Asian American political “props” (as Reed calls them) and other people of color are often positioned to undermine Black liberation and maintain the racial caste system in our country.

Ishmael is not afraid to name names! (Can you say: William Oberndorf, Heather Knight, and Diane Yap?) The Conductor calls out right-wing and liberal media’s complicity in spreading misinformation and biased narratives promoted by local billionaires seeking to dismantle our public education system.

Don’t miss your chance to see the play streaming LIVE performances at the Theater for the New City, Off-Broadway. If you can’t make it to New York to see the play, it streams online TODAY, this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8 pm ET (5 pm PT) and Sunday at 3 pm ET (12 noon PT) And next week through Sunday, March 26th at 3 pm (12 noon PT).

This well-researched play contains lots of fodder for discussion and also lots of history!

Emil Guillermo as Gabriel Noitallde and Laura Robards as newscaster Hedda Duckbill in “The Conductor.” (Photo by Jonathan Slaff)

As Emil Guillermo, who plays Gabriel Noitalde, a Fox News-type pundit, writes, it is important our schools teach a more well-rounded version of our history as Americans, a version that includes Asian American and Black solidarity:

“we increasingly have those amongst us in the AAPI community who sound just like DeSantis…Amid the satire, “The Conductor” is chock full of history, specifically Asian American history, the parts that aren’t taught currently in schools.”

The Conductor presents a strong argument for the importance of solidarity and education that celebrates and humanizes all our communities. 🙏🏽💗

Flyer for Ishmael Reed’s new satirical play, The Conductor, playing LIVE Off-Broadway in NYC.

Learn more!

If you want to learn more about the factors and events behind the play, I’ve written about it:

Why the right wing is obsessed with San Francisco

A friend of mine often says I was like a canary in a coal mine. I was on the front end of right-wing attacks, which have now become the norm whenever educators have dismantled discriminatory policies in our schools.

We Must Not Allow Right-Wing Media to Set the Narrative

I went down a rabbit hole after reading an article in St. Louis Today by Coleen Schrappen about a right-wing legal attack on a hospital doing work to save the lives of trans teens.

One year after the SF School Board recall, the outcomes are clear.

The SF Board of Education Recall benefited political grifters and right-wing strategists, yet has produced little progress for SF’s most marginalized students.

Ishmael Reed’s new satirical play, The Conductor, takes on the San Francisco School Board Recall

I was no doubt the canary in a coal mine. As a parent organizer, educator, and former San Francisco school board member, I was on the front end of the wave of nationwide right-wing attacks against educators who have dismantled anti-discriminatory policies in our schools.

Challenges to affirmative action are not about “fairness”.

Edward Blum is the man behind two recent cases before the Supreme Court challenging #AffirmativeAction.

Moving Forward…

Reflecting on the Results of the SF School Board Recall

What matters most.

With anti-Asian bias on the rise in our communities, and the hate crimes committed in Georgia this week, it is especially important that we uplift and center Asian American communities. All Americans deserve to feel safe.

Black Lowell Students, Alumni and Community Leaders Demand a Change

[This resolution was ultimately adopted by the Board. Subsequent to the SF School Board Recall, President Lam and Vice President Boggess dismantled the audit. At this time, there has been NO investigation or public reporting on who is behind the hate speech and pornographic cyberbullying that targeted Lowell students.

Learn more about the intent of the equity audit and read the adopted resolution on the SFUSD website.]

The story isn’t “renaming”, it’s Lowell…

On the same day our nation was inaugurating its first Black female Vice President, students at Lowell High School in San Francisco witnessed extreme hate speech, pornography, and references to the Biden presidency directed at Black and Jewish students.



Ali M Collins

mom of twins. education nerd. public school warrior. reformed cat-lady. amateur urbanist. social justice addict. BLERD. & most recently Board of Ed Commissioner