Police shootings of young blacks examined on stage


With the shooting deaths of unarmed African-American teens like Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Trayvon Martin in Florida and others, acclaimed filmmaker Ping Chong and noted director Talvin Wilks have joined forces to collaborate on a performance they say counts as a response to the seemingly perpetual killings of young black men in America.

Their production of “Collidescope: Adventures in Pre and Post-Racial America,” debuts on Friday, November 7, 2014 at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland in College Park.

The show, which will include graduate and undergraduate performers and designers from the university’s School of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies, is scheduled to run through Friday, November 14, 2014.

“It will be in the Kogod Theatre at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and it’s a world premiere performance,” said Sarah Snyder, communications coordinator at the center. “[There will be] conversations with the cast, designers and special panelists following the performances that will be held on November 8, 11 and 13,” she said.

Collidescope is a devised, original work that explores the historical roots of black and white race relations in the United States, moving back and forth in time to connect the dots between America’s troubled racial history and its on-going consequences, center officials said in a news release.

Both Chong and Wilks have worked tirelessly to put the production together, officials said.

Since 1992, Chong has created more than 90 works for the stage that have been presented at major festivals and theaters around the world. He has earned a Guggenheim Fellowship, a USA Artist Fellowship, two Bessie Awards, two Obie Awards and the 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award among others.

Plays produced by Wilks, the award-winning playwright, include “Bread of Heaven,” “The Boy,” and “The Ballad of Emmett Till.”

“In response to the recent killings of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Michael Brown and the seemingly endless killings of black men and boys for unarmed offenses, we have designed Collidescope to be a collision-course view of the legacy and psyche behind this history of racial violence, racism and social injustice in America,” said Chong, an internationally recognized director, writer and a seminal figure in Asian-American theatre.

“Taking an ‘alien’ view of this aspect of human behavior, the gaze of Collidescope places these issues under a microscope. The world is an anthropological space, a vitrine in which to observe a species from a seemingly rational, scientific view,” he said.

Further, Chong said, “Collidescope examines race to address micro aggressions and contributes to the national conversation about these injustices that still exist today.”

Tickets for the performances are $25, $20 and $10 and can be purchased online at www.theclarice.umd.edu.