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Monday, October 3, 2016

'Every 28 Hours' Multi-Authored Plays on Racial Inequality... a McCarter/Princeton Partnership



McCarter Theatre Center will partner with the Princeton University Lewis Center for the Arts and Department of African American Studies to present The Every 28 Hours Plays on October 24, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. on McCarter Theatre Center’s Berlind Stage.

“Every 28 Hours” is a theater project and national partnership inspired by the widely-shared and hotly-debated statistic that a black person is killed by the police, security guards, or neighborhood watch vigilantes every 28 hours in the United States. Conceived shortly after the August 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, The Every 28 Hours Plays tap into the role that the arts have played in helping people to process and protest what happened in Ferguson — from the death of Mr. Brown and the unrest that followed, to the issues of racial inequality that it raised.

McCarter, the Princeton University Lewis Center for the Arts, and the Princeton University Department of African American Studies will partner to present a 60-minute collection of the plays, performed by a combination of professional and student actors. Casting is currently TBD.

The presentation of one-minute plays will be directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian, an award-winning director and a current recipient of the Princess Grace Foundation Theatre Fellowship whose current production of Nathan Alan Davis’ play Nat Turner in Jerusalem can be seen at New York Theatre Workshop. 


The Every 28 Hours Plays include works by such notable playwrights as Terrell Alvin McCraney, Lynn Nottage, Dominique Morriseau, and David Henry Hwang, among others.

The presentation of the plays will be followed by a community discussion designed to highlight and create awareness of the people and organizations in our community who are doing anti-racism work. This discussion will feature a panel of featured guests gathered to discuss the topics at hand. The most updated list of panelists may be found here.

The goal for the evening is to create a space of artistic response, community discussion, and forward action to address the ongoing national discussion on systemic racism and violence.

Additionally, McCarter’s education staff will work closely with drama students at Middlesex County Vocational Technical High School as they create their own short plays, dances, films, and other artistic responses to ongoing civil rights activism after attending the performance at McCarter. 


Several MCVTS students will also perform age-appropriate roles in the performance at McCarter. The MCVTS student
work will be presented publicly on October 26th on the school’s East Brunswick campus.

“Since the beginning of my career in the theater, I have been committed to exploring the connection between theatre and social justice,” said McCarter’s Artistic Director, Emily Mann. “In these heartbreaking and infuriating times, when African Americans are facing so much violence and the rest of the country is finally being forced to witness what black Americans have been facing all along, we as a theater committed to our community have to take action. Bringing members of our community together from all sides of the
issue to share stories and engage in constructive, empathic dialogue is a first step towards affecting change.
I look forward to the discussion.”

The Every 28 Hours Plays will be performed on October 24, 2016 at 7pm on the Berlind Stage. Tickets are free, and may be reserved by calling the McCarter Ticket office at 609-258-2787 or visiting www.mccarter.org/E28H .

ABOUT THE EVERY 28 HOURS PLAYS
Originally produced by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival under the leadership of Claudia Alick and The One-Minute Play Festival with Dominic D’Andrea, in association with St. Louis-based University of Missouri theatre professor Jacqueline Thompson, this project was conceived as a multi-year process with the goal of capturing the history in the making of our current Civil Rights Movement.



Last October, theater makers from around the US, including a member of McCarter Theatre’s staff, traveled to
Ferguson and St. Louis to listen, learn, and create a theatrical response alongside local artists. They met with
historians, high school students, police officers, community organizers, and other residents of the city before crafting one-minute plays around the theme of police violence and inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. The collection of 72 plays was presented as staged readings in St. Louis and Ferguson in October of 2015.

“The goal…is to experience the multiplicity of voices and perspectives on this issue within our community and
from the country,” said OSF Producer Claudia Alick. “While all theater is a political act, we have always been
very clear that this piece of theater was created without a singular political viewpoint. Our curatorial process
was open, and we asked our playwrights to reflect on the Civil Rights Movement happening today and the
events that inspire the Black Lives Matter movement. The process has included dialogue with both law
enforcement and activists, and that dialogue continues. Theater, culture workers and law enforcement are
designed to serve the community in their own unique ways. Theater offers a space to explore our differences,
find our commonalities and practice empathy.”

The upcoming phase of the project is a coordinated series of national readings and engagements all over the country sponsored and presented by partnering theatres. This year, theaters and universities across the US will join forces and offer individual presentations of The Every 28 Hour Plays during the month of October. The mission is to open each city’s public spaces to engage in this critical conversation. By the end of October, over 100 theatres and universities across 25 states will have participated in the creation, performance, or other forms of engagement with these plays.


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