Nov. 28, 2017 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids Community College alumnus will direct "Detroit '67," the GRCC Players' first production of the 2017-18 season.
Alumnus and GRCC adjunct instructor Sammy A. Publes has assembled a cast and crew of theater veterans and newcomers for Dominique Morisseau's play. The story centers on Chelle and her brother, Lank, who are making ends meet by turning their basement into an after-hours joint. A mysterious woman sparks conflict between the siblings, who find themselves caught in the middle of the 1967 riots. The show contains graphic language and strong content.
While the play takes place in the past, Publes says its themes resonate today.
"A lot of the issues that divided our society during those times are being repeated today," he said. "We must remind our young people that injustice comes in many ways, but the show has an uplifting message: Never give up and follow your dreams -- no matter who or what tries to stop you."
Marqea Lee and Michael Francis play the lead roles, with Raydale Bonivel in a supporting role. Jasmine Piper is the stage manager.
Working with student actors and crew is a unique -- and enjoyable -- experience, Publes said.
"It's an honor to be taken back to a time when I was thirsty for knowledge and had knowledgeable teachers who were eager to help," he said. "It's also nostalgic in the sense that hearing the students talk about their goals and struggles reminds me of my own struggles and the goals when I was a student here."
Performances of "Detroit '67" start at 8 p.m. Dec. 7 through 9 at GRCC's Spectrum Theater, 160 Fountain St. NE. Tickets cost $5 for GRCC students, $8 for other area students and GRCC faculty and staff, and $12 for the public. Call (616) 234-3946 for tickets and more information.
Panel discussions, with coffee, will follow the Dec. 7 and 8 performances.
A final dress rehearsal, at 8 p.m. Dec. 6, is also open to the public; tickets will be available at the door.
The other performances in the GRCC Players' 2017-18 season are:
- "This is Our Youth" by Kenneth Lonergan, Jan. 11 to 13.
- "Dead Man's Cell Phone" by Sarah Ruhl, March 29 to 31.
Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.