Writers' Theatre announces the 7th annual tour of The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Rights, written by Yolanda Androzzo, directed by Jimmy McDermott and featuring Caren Blackmore. The production opens with a free public performance at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 NortH Clark St. in Chicago, on the Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday, January 21, 2013 at 12 p.m.
The January 21 performance will follow a live broadcast of the 57th Presidential Inauguration in the Museum's theatre. The production, which has been seen by over 35,000 students to date, will also tour to area schools in January and February 2013.
The MLK Project is a one-woman show that follows a Chicago student's personal transformation through studying the Civil Rights Movement. Alaya (Caren Blackmore) uses her fists as an outlet for anger, but after interviewing local heroes of the Movement she discovers she can put "anger into action" and that her power is in her voice and her hip hop, not violence. Weaving together real interviews, poetry, hip hop, history and multi-media projections, the performance features stories of both celebrated and unsung Chicago-based Civil Rights Activists. Blackmore transforms into several characters including Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles who was present when Dr. King was shot, Dr. Margaret Taylor Goss Burroughs, founder of The DuSable Museum of African American History, Reverend Jesse Jackson, longtime fighter for social justice, David Hernandez, Puerto Rican poet and activist, among others.
This year's tour is dedicated to Now Is The Time, a citywide initiative inspiring young people to make positive change in their communities and stop youth violence and intolerance. More than 20 of Chicago's finest theatre companies, including Writers' Theatre, have formed Now Is The Time to ACT (NITT to ACT), focusing 2012-13 artistic outreach programming on the issue of youth violence and intolerance. Writers' The MLK Project will encourage audiences to draw connections between themes of nonviolence and "turning anger into action" in the play to their own lives. On February 21, The MLK Project will be followed by a post-show discussion featuring NITT to ACT teens on the Teens at the Table council. Teens at the Table, co-facilitated by Writers' Theatre, is comprised of youth from all over the city working to host a series of community forums on violence - engaging professionals and neighborhoods in discussion leading to a culminating event in May.
Additionally, Writers' Theatre will partner with the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence to pair The MLK Project with poetry and writing from its "Student Voices" program about the negative effects of gun violence and a community service project including all attendees. The MLK Project tour will also include partnerships with Keep The Peace at Chicago Talent Development High School, area juvenile detention centers, and the Peace Warriors youth program at North Lawndale College Prep, with youth co-hosting the tour's final performance event in the North Lawndale community.