It’s a time for us to pause and reflect on the things that Dr. King valued and eventually died fighting to realize. Those values being equity of opportunity for all and access to the full benefits as an American citizen.
These values are at the core of why I co-founded Plowshares Theatre Company in 1989. They are the incomplete business of America’s arts and culture world, as well.
INEQUALITY OF EXPRESSION IN THE ARTS
Today, every voice or form of artistic expression is not treated equally.
Stories from some communities are valued more than others. In some cases, those stories require us to look at some harsh realities. Most often, they are filtered to not offend.
What these filtered stories hide is the truth. A truth that could help us understand one another better.
Because of this, stories that go unheard. The names of many inspiring people have been lost to history. Plowshares was established 30 years ago to help bring those stories into the light.
PLOWSHARES THEATRE AS DETROIT’S GRIOT
Plowshares is built on a mission symbolized by the Griot (pronounced gree-oh), the West African tribal figure. Part historian, part raconteur, the Griot would retell the story or events of various community members. He did this for three reasons
- To keep the names of our ancestors alive,
- To share the lessons they learned with us and succeeding generations, and
- To help build bridges of understanding between people by sharing stories of our common humanity.
All three of these reasons are at the heart of every play we produce.
PLOWSHARES 2020 SEASON
We are a little over a week away from opening the 2020 Season with our Michigan premiere of “N,” a new play by playwright Adrienne Earle Pender.
This one is a labor of love for me. I learned about Adrienne’s play four years ago after a production she had mounted by a theatre company in her native North Carolina. She was kind enough to send the script for review.
I liked it but I felt it could be improved with further development. Luckily, Adrienne was willing to go back in and explore the story in new ways. Thanks to my lovely wife Addell who is a theatre scholar steeped in knowledge about Black artists of the early 20th Century, we were able to provide Adrienne with essential information that helped her tell the story of Charles S. Gilpin, the first African American dramatic actor to become a star on Broadway. I won’t give away anything about the play other than to say it’s riveting.
All three plays we’ve scheduled this season are premieres. “N” and CITRUS are Michigan Premieres, whereas ROOST is a World Premiere.
PLOWSHARES THEATRE AT 30
What have we learned over the last 30 years?
Plowshares Theatre Company does theater. Pure and simple.
We use the power of the imagination to take you to exotic places and different periods of history. We use the magic of the spoken words and the lyrical phrase of a song to navigate the human condition and reveal the secrets of the soul.
With you, the audience, we create memorable experiences that are unique at every performance.
We do theater that is about something. We may not be the biggest or the richest theater in this country or even the state, but we think we’re one of the best simply because we focus on what’s important: the stories we tell you, our audience members.
This season we’re bringing you exciting, passionate plays about stories that will stay with you long after you’ve seen the show. Check us out and see for yourself. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
I look forward to seeing you at the theater.
Gary Anderson is the Co-Founder and Producing Artistic Director of Plowshares Theatre Company. He is the father of two, Jabari and Asia, and the husband of one, Addell.