Detroit ’67 by Dominique Morisseau
The first in a 3-play cycle about playwright Dominique Morisseau’s hometown Detroit, Detroit ’67 explores an explosive and decisive moment in a great American city. The play’s compelling characters struggle with racial tension and economic instability. Detroit ’67 is a work grounded in historical understanding that also comments meaningfully on the pressing issues of our day.
Dominique Morisseau, Playwright and Actress, got her BFA in Acting from the University of Michigan (U of M) and her start as a performance poet in the Detroit community of Harmonie Park. She has since become a noted award-winning playwright in NYC and is currently developing a 3-play cycle about her hometown, entitled “The Detroit Projects”. The inaugural play Detroit ’67, about the riots/rebellion in 1967, originated at the Public Theater in New York City and extended at Classical Theatre of Harlem with the National Black Theatre. The production was nominated for 8 Audelco Theatre Awards including Best Playwright. The second play Paradise Blue, about Detroit’s 1949 jazz community uprooted by urban renewal, was the winner of the L. Arnold Weissberger Award and received development at Williamstown Theatre Festival, McCarter Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, and the Public Theater. The third and final play Skeleton Crew, about a makeshift family of workers at the last exporting auto plant in the city, recently received a Barebones production at the Lark Play Development Center.
Ms. Morisseau, a recent PoNY (Playwright of New York) fellow, is also generating a substantial body of work independent of the Detroit cycle: Sunset Baby, Follow Me To Nellie’s, and Blood At The Root. Her work has also been published in NY Times bestseller- “Chicken Soup for the African American Soul” and in the Harlem-based literary journal “Signifyin’ Harlem”. She is a Jane Chambers Playwriting Award honoree, a two-time NAACP Image Award recipient, honoree for the Primus Prize by the American Theatre Critics Association, and winner of the Stavis Playwriting Award. U of M has also awarded her with their Emerging Leader Award, and the city of Detroit has honored her with a Spirit of Detroit award. Most substantially, Dominique has recently been awarded the esteemed Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama. She is an artist that believes wholeheartedly in the power and strength of community.
This year’s jury has unanimously chosen to award the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History to Detroit ’67 by Dominique Morisseau. The first in a 3-play cycle about her hometown Detroit, the play explores an explosive and decisive moment in a great American city. The jury was completely drawn into the world of Detroit ’67, whose compelling characters struggle with racial tension and economic instability. The jury also felt strongly that the play powerfully exemplifies the goals of the Kennedy Prize. Detroit ’67 is a work grounded in historical understanding that also comments meaningfully on the pressing issues of our day.
Carol Becker, Dean of Columbia University School of the Arts
Susan Birkenhead, Composer, Lyricist
Rinne Groff, Playwright, Performer
Stephen Adly Guirgis, Playwright, Screenwriter, Director, Actor, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies, Columbia University
Young Jean Lee, Playwright, Director
James Shapiro, Larry Miller Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University