Denison Theatre Presents Story of Crown Heights Riots
Posted: September 5, 2005
Denison University Theatre will open its 76th Subscription Series with "Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and Other Identities" by Anna Deavere Smith. In 1991, in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, a seven-year-old black child was killed after an Hasidic man's car jumped a curb. In a seeming act of retaliation, a Hasidic rabbinical student was fatally stabbed, and the ensuing riots made national headlines. "Fires in the Mirror" will be presented at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday (Oct. 6-7) and Tuesday through Saturday (Oct. 10-14) in the Ace Morgan Theatre in the Theatre Arts Building.
From more than 50 interviews with activists, politicians, religious leaders, gang members, street dwellers, and Crown Heights' residents, Smith created a powerful and moving theatrical event that touches every American regardless of race, color, or beliefs. Dale Shields, a Vail Artist-In-Residence, will direct the play. "'Fires in the Mirror' is an unflinching exploration of a racially charged murder that sparked the Crown Heights riots of 1991, and yet it also manages to be a thoughtful, compassionate, and poetic work of drama," says Peter Pauze, Denison Theatre Department faculty member. "Based on interviews with the actual people involved, the play combines the hard-hitting power of journalism with the immediacy and emotional poignancy of live theatre. We're extremely fortunate to have professional actor and director Dale Shields here as a Vail Artist-In-Residence directing this important play. Like all good theatre, 'Fires in the Mirror' asks difficult questions and questions easy answers," he concluded.
Shields earned both his bachelor of fine arts and master of fine arts degrees at Ohio University. His extensive professional credits as a director, stage manager and actor on Broadway and off Broadway include work at The Joseph Papp Public Theatre in the New York Shakespeare Festival, The Actor's Studio, The Actor's Theatre of Louisville, The Cleveland Playhouse, The Beck Center, The Near West Side Theatre, The Dobama Theatre, The Hilberry Repertory Theatre, Karamu House, The Henry Street Settlement House, and The Negro Ensemble Company.
Shields is a member of The Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. As an actor, he is a member of the Actor's Equity Association, Screen Actor's Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the American Guild of Musical Artists. He co-authored and directed "In Time," an HIV/AIDS awareness play for teenagers. As a teacher, Shields has received two Outstanding Professor Awards and two Educational Program of the Year Awards from the College of Wooster for producing and directing "Diversity" projects for students. Currently, he teaches in the Conservatory Program at the Beck Center for the Performing Arts.
Cast members include: seniors Perla Castro (Hoboken, N.J.), Lindsey Johnston (Perrysburg, Ohio), Jamar Orr (Chicago, Ill.), Ashley Price (Columbus, Ohio), and Jared Roper (Springfield, Ohio); juniors Anna Bethel (Circleville, Ohio), Lowell Byers (Chappaqua, N.Y.); sophomores Ben Jacoby (Maplewood, N.J.), and Jordan Wolff (Medina, Ohio); and freshmen Jessica Blaise (Boston, Mass.), Katie Dahm (Austin, Tex.), and Natasha Wright (Aurora, Colo.). Senior Jennifer Zimmer (Columbus, Ohio) serves as assistant director; sophomore Laura Judson (Bainbridge Island, Wash.) is stage manager; junior Whitney Foster (Cleveland, Ohio) is assistant stage manager; and serving as dramaturge is senior Julie Rogers (Montclair, N.J.). Sophomore Arielle Waite (Allentown, Pa.) serves as Video Operator; junior Jason Ginter (Juneau, Alaska) is master electrician; sophomore Jessica Thomas is light board operator; freshman Justin McNeilly (Westlake, Ohio) is sound operator; and freshman Tara Demmy (East Amherst, N.Y.) works with props.
CALENDAR LISTING: Denison University, Granville -- The Theatre Department presents Anna Deavere Smith's "Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and Other Identities"; 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday (Oct. 6-7) and Tuesday-Saturday (Oct. 10-14) in Ace Morgan Theatre (211 W. College St.). Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for seniors and available for purchase by calling the theatre box office at (740) 587-6527.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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