Playing now through Feb. 11 at Falk School
Police brutality, racism, unemployment, and lack of opportunity are just some of the themes that are discussed in New Horizon Theater’s play, “Detroit ’67.”
“I want the audience to walk away with the question of where do we go from here,” explained the play’s director, Herb Newsome. “In 1967, police brutality, the Vietnam War and a lot of issues were affecting the Black community and America. The play is a mirror of what’s happening today.”
The timeliness of “Detroit ’67” is one of the reasons New Horizon Theater Chairperson Joyce Meggerson-Moore chose to include the play in this season’s lineup, and why she and her board specifically wanted to present it as the theater’s Black History Month selection.
“We talked about it last year after the movie ‘Detroit’ came out and the movie and play are in our minds right now, and we can capitalize on that. We look at a group of plays and see if our audience will enjoy it. This play has real themes that represents real-life people and real events and we’ve been doing plays like this for the past few years during Black History Month,” Meggerson-Moore said.
“Detroit ’67,” set to the backdrop of the soulful sounds of Motown, tells the story of siblings Chelle (Alexandria Danielle King) and Lank (Lamar Darnell Fields) who are trying to make ends meet after the death of their parents by operating an unlicensed bar in their basement of their Detroit apartment. That’s a risky business since police are cracking down after-hours Jook Joints in Black neighborhoods. When Lank offers help to a mysterious stranger, tensions escalate at home and in the community.
Newsome is excited to be directing New Horizon’s version of the show, which is being sponsored by The Heinz Endowments, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Pittsburgh Foundation and Chris Moore Communications.
“I saw the production in New York City two years ago and I produced it in Los Angeles, and when I found out that New Horizon was doing it, I had my own vision about what I wanted it to look like and sound like. I’m excited to revisit it,” explained Newsome, who is friends with “Detroit ’67” playwright Dominique Morisseau. “With the election of this president, it seems like it’s given people the voice to sprout hate again. When you have it come from the upper echelon, people think it’s OK and it sets us back. We need to keep dialogue open.”
“Detroit ’67” is the first play in a series of plays based on Morisseau’s hometown of Detroit, called “The Detroit Projects.” The second in the series, “Paradise Blue,” was developed with Voice and Vision, the Hansberry Project at ACT, New York Theatre Workshop and McCarter Theatre.
“Young people should be able to identify with the theme of police brutality and racism and some of the other issues and hopefully it will spark a dialogue,” said Meggerson-Moore about the play.
“Detroit ’67” will be shown at the Falk School Auditorium, 4060 Allequippa St., through Feb. 11. Free parking is available across the street at the Veterans Administration lot. For more information visit www.newhorizontheater.org or call 412-431-0773.
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