History, healing and the lessons of Ferguson

The Black Rep presents world premiere of 'Canfield Drive' Jan. 9-27

Playwright Kristen Adele Calhoun also stars in the world premiere of drama “Canfield Drive,” which she co-wrote with Michael Thomas Walker. (Photo: Peter Spack)

August 2014.  A media frenzy erupts after the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Two powerful journalists with very different ideological perspectives struggle to untangle the forces behind Brown’s death — while also protecting secrets of their own.

The stage is set for “Canfield Drive,” a play by Kristen Adele Calhoun and Michael Thomas Walker. The drama, which is largely based on interviews the playwrights conducted throughout the St. Louis region, will have its world premiere by The Black Rep on Wednesday, Jan. 9, in Washington University in St. Louis’ Edison Theatre. The play runs through Jan. 27.

“If ‘riot is the language of the unheard,’ this play aims to understand the killing of Michael Brown, the Ferguson protests and the subsequent #BlackLivesMatter movement by hearing the unheard voices and amplifying those stories,” Walker said. “We hope this play will serve as a platform for necessary conversations about race, culture, privilege, history and healing.”

Or, as Calhoun explained to The St. Louis American, “If you want to come to the theater and be changed, then this is the play for you.”

Director Ron Himes, founder of The Black Rep and Henry E. Hampton, Jr. Artist-in-Residence in the Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences, has worked with Calhoun and Walker over the last four years to develop the script. Though the group has presented workshops and staged readings at venues across the country, Himes pointed out that the Edison Theatre performances mark the first full production.

“We are so excited to premiere this work here in St. Louis for our community,” Himes said.

Tickets and performances

Edison Theatre is in the Mallinckrodt Center, 6465 Forsyth Blvd. Tickets are $45, or $40 for seniors and $15 for children. Tickets are available through the Edison Theatre and The Black Rep box offices. Visit theblackrep.org for showtimes.

Washington University’s Academy for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will offer discounted faculty and staff tickets ($11.25) to all Thursday-through-Sunday performances. Discounted tickets will be available before each show at The Black Rep tables located next to the Edison box office. Be ready to show faculty or staff ID and give the discount code “The Academy.”

In addition, the academy will host a series of free lunchtime debrief sessions for faculty and staff featuring food from local restaurants: Seoul Taco (Jan. 11 and 14), House of India (Jan. 18 and 21) and The Vine (Jan. 25 and 28). All sessions take place in the academy’s offices in Hillman Hall. Visit here to learn more or to RSVP.

Season 42

“Canfield Drive” is presented as part of The Black Rep’s 42nd season. Subsequent productions will include Kirsten Greenidge’s “Milk Like Sugar” (Feb. 13 to March 3) in the university’s A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre; and Christina Ham’s “Nina Simone: Four Women” (May 15 to June 6) in Edison.

“Canfield Drive” is a National Performance Network Creation & Development Fund Project co-commissioned by 651 Arts in partnership with The Black Rep.

“Canfield Drive.” (Photo: Peter Spack)

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