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Play at NU to explore race relations

Two staged readings of “Palmer Park,” a play about a Detroit neighborhood’s fight to maintain racial integration following one of the nation’s worst race riots, will coincide with Northwestern University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration on the Evanston campus.

Two staged readings of “Palmer Park,” a play about a Detroit neighborhood’s fight to maintain racial integration following one of the nation’s worst race riots, will coincide with Northwestern University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration on the Evanston campus.

The readings of Tony Award-nominate playwright Joanna McClelland Glass’ “Palmer Park” are free and open to the public. Each reading, which contains adult content, will be followed by a post-show discussion with the creative team.

The readings will be presented by the Theatre and Interpretation Center (TIC) at Northwestern at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17, in the Mussetter-Struble Theater, 1949 Campus Drive, and at 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18, in the Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive.

While thousands of white residents fled from Detroit during the late 1960s to early 1970s, some middle-class districts, such as Palmer Park, fought to maintain racial integration in their neighborhoods and schools.

Directed by Northwestern theatre department chair Rives Collins, the readings are a result of the Big Ten University theater initiative. The Big Ten theater chairs gather annually to swap ideas and share best practices.

“In addition to playing each other in sports, we decided that all the Big Ten universities would explore the same play,” said Collins. “We chose ‘Palmer Park’ because the dialogue crackles, the characters are well-drawn and the play asks questions that don’t have easy answers.”

Two Big Ten schools have already staged “Palmer Park,” and others plan to do so on their campuses during the current school year.

In what Collins describes as “theater of the mind,” a cast of eleven Northwestern graduate and undergraduate students will read from scripts on an unadorned stage.

General admission seating is limited, and reservations are required. The TIC Box Office may be contacted at (847) 491-7282. Information on the reading is available online.

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