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September 21, 2023

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Play teaches students about Detroit Riot Races

A small production hosted in a small setting left a large impact on some audience members this weekend.

“Detroit 67” was hosted by the Department of Theatre and Film in the Eva Saint Marie Theatre in the Wolfe Center this past Friday and Saturday evening. The production took place during the Detroit Race Riots of 1967.

Students such as senior Tia Brown attended the play and enjoyed how easy it was for everyone to be engaged with the performance.

“The play had something for everyone,” Brown said. “I really loved the history within it and the relationship between the characters.”

Many of the actors in the play were not theatre majors, such as sophomore Treyvon Carter, who played Sly.

“I used to act in high school, but I started playing football and stopped doing it for a while,” Carter said, “I met [the director] in acting class and decided to get back into it.”

For some of the actors, this was their first time participating in a production on campus. Sophomore Manone Ellis played Bunny, the friend of the family who often offered comedic relief throughout the play’s many dramatic moments. Ellis viewed her involvement in “Detroit 67” as a learning experience and was excited the opening night went so well.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Ellis said. “But I had so much fun and I’m glad the audience thought that certain parts were funny just like I did.”

Some of the actors had a connection to the setting of the play, which helped them identify with the characters.

“Most of my family is from Detroit,” Carter said. “So I sort of had a connection to the play in that way.”

Michelle Mensah, the director of the play, had her concerns as far as how the audience may react to the film.

“The play is very racial,” Mensah said, “It can be very touchy when it comes to the differences between whites and blacks.”

The play still received a positive reaction from the audience despite it having heavy racial content.

“It was amazing, I really believed the characters,” Brown said, “I loved everything about it; I’m surprised it was free.”

The reaction from the audience had an impact on those involved in the production as well, especially the director.

“The fact that people were clapping between acts lets me know that they were with us,” Mensah said. “It was delicious and very effective.”

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