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Play to deal with racial issues, entertain viewers on stage

Actors+rehearse+%26%238216%3BDetroit+%26%238216%3B67%2C%26%238217%3B+a+play+about+racial+issues+in+the+1960s.+The+play+is+directed+by+Michelle+Mensah.

Actors rehearse ‘Detroit ‘67,’ a play about racial issues in the 1960s. The play is directed by Michelle Mensah.

Students, faculty and staff will be able to attend a play centered on racial issues and uplift during a trying time, based in a city only an hour and 20 minutes away from the University.

“Detroit ‘67” is a play set in Detroit, Mich. during the 1967 Detroit Riots, also referred to as the Detroit Race Riots. The play was written by Dominique Morisseau, a Detroit native, and focuses on one family and how they get through the riots.

“I chose this play because I wanted to do something that would give minority actors and faculty on campus something juicy to watch and talk about,” Director of the play Michelle Mensah said. “The theme of ‘Detroit ’67’ is the idea of being proud of being black and the wonderful strength of the community.”

The play consists of four African American performers and one white performer. This is the first production put on through the Department of Theatre and Film that consists of a predominately black cast.

“Most of the shows are centered around the white experience,” Mensah said. “Only recently have we been able to talk about race in a production.”

The change in racial dynamics on campus added to Mensah’s desire to direct a film that focuses on African Americans while not creating a negative representation.

“There are a lot of brown people at [the University],” Mensah said. “I want to make sure that it’s known that the Department of Theatre wants to tell stories about the African American experience and reflects a true reality of what it means to be a black person in this country.”

Evan Crawford, one of the actors in the production, is appreciative of not only the story within the play, but also how it affects him as a performer.

“I think that the play is ground breaking,” Crawford said. “For the first time in a long time I can perform on stage as a black body and feel comfortable.”

Some students are also interested in attending the play and seeing what it is about.

“I would definitely like to see that,” senior Mary Tieko said. “I’ll be there, I can’t wait to see it.”

The play will be hosted in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre in the Wolfe Center April 11 and 12 at 8 p.m. Admission is free.

“The play is about hopes and dreams,” Crawford said. “Dreams only die if you let them.”

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