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Hastings Street

DETROIT, MI – Michigan’s only professional African American Theatre, Plowshares Theatre Company, presents a virtual concert of songs from an original musical set in Detroit past. The play, Hastings Street, is a work in progress set in 1949 at the cusp of the order to tear down Black Bottom, the segregated Black community that was once where I-75 is now. Sporting a book by local artists John Sloan III with a score written by Sloan and Kris Johnson, Hastings Street, explores the lives of Detroiters at a moment when the city was rewriting the landscape and displacing thousands of African Americans in the name of progress. The story follows the experiences of the Carson Family as they navigate issues of being uprooted on a personal and communal basis. 

Hastings Street is a commission by Plowshares Theatre Company underwritten by support from The Kresge Foundation.

Date and Times

This sneak preview event will be live-streamed on July 22 from 7:00 – 7:45 pm on our Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram accounts as well at our website 

Tickets are free but space is limited. Only 100 people will be able to view the premier. To reserve a spot go to our website,


It’s the summer of 1949 and Detroit is electric with anticipation. Both Houses of Congress had just passed the Housing Act. President Truman signs it into law and ushers in a nationwide urban renewal initiative. Detroit’s city planners have earmarked Black Bottom, the nickname for the segregated Black neighborhood, as the target for its urban redevelopment projects.

Hastings Street explores the lives of the Carson family at a moment when the city is beginning to rewrite its landscape. This is not what Robert Carson, Sr. and his wife Beatrice expected when they moved North and opened a supper club. It’s the time when thousands of African American business owners and residents will find themselves displaced all in the name of progress.  It’s the moment when World War II Vet Robert, Jr. – “Bobby” to everyone – returns home seeking some normalcy only to be greeted with upheaval. It’s the story of his sister Renita and her husband Marlon as they try to balance their dreams for the future against their responsibilities to the family. Hastings Street follows the Carson Family as they navigate issues of being uprooted on a personal and communal basis.

Hastings Street is a  work-in-progress that Plowshares Theatre Company plans to mount once we are out the pandemic. Plowshares appreciates the support of The Kresge Foundation.

About the Writing Team

Kris Johnson and John Sloan III were brought together by Plowshares Theatre Company’s Gary Anderson to create Hastings Street because of their respective talents and the depth of their experiences.

John Sloan III is an actor, singer, and composer. Detroit native and University of Michigan graduate. His regional theatre credits include appearing in Aida, Show Boat, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and Julius X. His Broadway credits include the world premiere production of The Water and the national tour of The Lion King. Today, Sloan is the CEO/Artistic Director for GhostLight Productions Inc. and The Helping Hands Campaign for the Arts. An experienced Event Curator and Production Manager he is the founder of The Legacy Gala, an originally commissioned event for the Fiat Chrysler African American Network.

Kris Johnson is an award-winning jazz trumpeter, composer, and educator. Kris is a trumpeter and arranger with the Count Basie Orchestra. He has performed at some of the world’s most prestigious jazz venues including the Apollo Theater, the Blue Note Jazz Club (the US and Japan), Sydney Opera House, Blues Alley, and the Hollywood Bowl. Moreover, he has appeared on an impressive list of albums including two Grammy-nominated releases: Tony Bennett’s “A Swingin’ Christmas” and Karen Clark-Sheard’s “All In One.” In 2012, Kris received an ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers award and was selected as a 2014 Kresge Artist Fellowship. He has also had the opportunity to perform with many jazz greats including Tony Bennett, Patti Austin, Wess Anderson, Wycliffe Gordon, Jon Hendricks, Monty Alexander, Christian McBride, Jamie Cullum, and many others.

About the Cast

The cast of artists includes Lulu Fall as Renita, Will James as Marlon, Bryana Hall as Naomi, Rashada Dawan as Beatrice, John Sloan III as Bobby, Milton Suggs as Mr. Simpson., and Tiffany Gridiron as Ensemble.

This tight and exciting cast will take you back to Detroit in the late-1940s when everything changed.

About Plowshares

Plowshares Theatre Company is a not-for-profit, professional live theatre company, dedicated to producing plays that affirm, exhibit, and inspire African American life. The company began producing in 1990 and has received a number of local awards and accolades.

Additional information about the company and the rest of the shows in the 2014 Season is available online at or by calling (313) 744-3181.

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