Can theatre uncover the surface of police-community conflict?
Because writing a play is something like opting to write a letter instead of engaging in an emotionally charged argument with someone you’re in conflict with. The kind of argument where you worry that the words won’t come out right, if at all. If only they walked in my shoes. Saw this through my eyes. Been where I’ve been. REALLY understood my concern (or cared to want to). Sometimes, its easier to get the other party to this place when you write a letter, which can be more well-thought out, edited, and articulate - perhaps written with a clearer mind, not distracted by the overbearing blanket of anger, or sadness, or fear… A letter can help you say what you really want to say.
Theatre can take this notion to another level.
Its more than words. More than pictures, too. Its life experiences. Shared life experiences, keeping your fellow audience members in mind.
In taking a current conflict as polarizing as police-community conflict, what if the collective community (which includes police) can have a shared experience, far more sensory than reading a letter or having a conversation, far less constricting than an argument, where we get to witness values being shaped, hear narratives you don’t often hear, and relate to humans on a human level. societal roles and labels aside. On a human level.
Theatre can provide that, and Uniform Justice provides that. The play, based on “Insight” conversations with police and other community members in Memphis, TN. around the subjects of police-community conflict as well as violence and retaliatory violence, has just finished touring as a staged reading, where we brought it to New York, New Jersey, and Ohio. Each performance was followed by an “Insight” facilitated dialogue with the audience, where we processed this shared experience, and in doing so challenged ourselves in the way we perceive each other on a daily basis (That’s what Insight is designed to do, challenge us in this way). I truly find this complete experience to be profound, albeit subtle, because if nothing else it reinforces the notion that we can show compassion for each other, and reminds us that when we are in conflict with another party, there are far more questions than there are answers about that party. We’re reminded that nature has given us permission to be curious and act on that curiosity, even when it’s much easier to draw conclusions (likely informed by past experiences, and cemented by the emotional state) and defend the perceived threat.
I invite you to see Uniform Justice and see what I’m trying to articulate in this letter. This August, The play will be running for five performances as part of the New York International Fringe Festival. This production will be FULLY STAGED, for the first time since its 2014 premiere in Memphis. I am personally producing this run, bringing this piece back to New York City, my hometown, where theatre thrives, and where tensions between police and community are as high as ever. Come see this narrative unfold on the stage, stay for the dialogue that will follow, and see what I’m talking about!
Performances run from August 16th to 29th. Get you tickets by visiting www.fringenyc.org and searching Uniform Justice in the show listings.
For more on the Fringe production, visit www.uniformjusticetheplay.com
To support this production in other ways, visit our indiegogo campaign page at:
Join the experience.