Monday, January 30, 2012

New Jersey Rep Presents Summer In Sanctuary by Al Letson

March 8, 2012 - March 25, 2012
An Explosive New Play
New Jersey Repertory Company, located at 179 Broadway in Long Branch is proud to present “Summer In Sanctuary,” an explosive new play by Al Letson, a nationally recognized award–winning slam poet, performer, playwright, and the host and producer of the popular “State of the Re: Union” on National Public Radio. Performances for this limited run are March 8 - 25 and tickets can be ordered by calling 732-229-3166 or by visiting

The title refers to “Sanctuary,” a community center located on 8th Street, in one of the toughest sections of Jacksonville, Florida where Mr. Letson spent three months as a creative writing teacher at a summer camp for inner city teenagers. His intentions were noble. Letson grew up in a middle-class family in North Jersey, the son of a Southern Baptist preacher, and he wanted to make a difference. Imbued with idealism he enthusiastically went down to Jacksonville but very quickly learned that “sanctuary” was a dangerously deceptive word, and that soon he would be challenged as he had never before been challenged, and that all his ideals of “giving-back,” good intentions and resolve, would soon be tested bitterly.

The kids that he was supposed to “instruct” were fighting for survival on a daily basis in an environment rife with poverty, drugs, and violent crime, and the fact that Mr. Letson is African-American did not give him a free-pass. He had been dropped into a veritable war-zone, and although he sought desperately to connect and to impart the literature that he loved to his students, he was completely unprepared for what came next. He was confronted from the get-go with sullen faces, curses, and rage, and quickly learned that the job description of “creative writing teacher” was much too narrow and that he would have to improvise if he was to survive serving as coach, therapist, advisor, chauffer, videographer, and policeman. He found that things could explode at any moment, and often did in this highly charged uncertain environment, and that the kids that he was trying to teach could be swallowed up at any time by the dangerous neighborhood where gang killings were the norm.

Most would have fled, but much to Letson’s credit he stayed put, and dug in his heels recognizing that although the painful journey that he was about to embark upon would test his character to the extreme, he could emerge with his compassion and ideals burnished and strengthened by reality.

With poetry, music and videos “Summer in Sanctuary” takes the audience on an intimate journey with Letson into the dark and wavering soul of America where redemption is still possible.

Special thanks to the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust for support of NJ Rep and this production of “Summer in Sanctuary.” Additional funding provided by The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Horizon Foundation for NJ, and the NJ State Council on the Arts.

Performances are Thursdays, Fridays at 8:00 pm; Saturdays at 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm; and Sundays at 2:00 pm, March 8 - March 25. Special previews are on Thursday, March 8 at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm and Friday, March 9 at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm.

Tickets are $35 with discounts for students (full-time 13-25), and groups of 10 or more. Additional performances can be scheduled on Thursday and Friday matinees or Sunday nights for groups of 30 or more.

Warning: Strong adult language.

For tickets call 732-229-3166 or visit for online ticketing.

NJ Rep is a non-profit, professional theater located at 179 Broadway in Long Branch, only minutes from the Jersey Shore. Free on-site parking and easy access from NJ Transit (North Jersey Coast Line) and Academy Buses.

New Jersey Repertory Company
A Boutique Theater for Passionate Theater Goers
179 Broadway
Long Branch, NJ 07740

No comments:

Post a Comment