Morisseau’s ‘Detroit ‘67’ moves to Harlem

On opening night of “Detroit ‘67” at the Public Theater celebration, Dominique Morriseau stands in the center, surrounded by the ensemble cast and director. From left, Kwame Kwei-Armah (Director), Francois Battiste (Lank), Samantha Soule (Caroline), Dominique Morisseau (Playwright), De’ Adre Aziza (Bunny) (Chelle), Michelle Wilson, and Brandon Dirden (Sly).
Photo by Tequila Minsky
Morisseau’s ‘Detroit ‘67’ moves to Harlem
By Tequila Minsky

Dominique Morisseau is a poet, an actress and a playwright. She’s loyal and loving to Detroit, her hometown, artistically she references it some of her spoken word pieces and currently, in her new play “Detroit ‘67” that opened to great fanfare at the Public Theatre, last week.

The play is set in the noteworthy year 1967, when a race riot in Detroit, ignited by a police raid, lasted five days evolving to death, injuries, mass destruction and the decline of this once major city.

In Morisseau’s play, a brother and sister have turned their basement into an after-hours joint to the rhythms of Motown music. Always at odds including business differences, as police brutality increases in the city, and a new character changes the dynamics conflict between siblings intensify. Along with the personal, they find themselves caught in a significant era in Detroit’s history. Costumes and the set shout the ‘60s.

Award-winning Morriseau developed the play as a part of The Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group at The Public, which provides playwrights a platform to further develop their work on stage, while giving audiences access to new work.

This play is “coming from a place of love and honor,” says Morrisseau, relying on her family and people she’s spoken with and research to write this drama.

“Racial tension was really high in the city in 1967. At the same time, there was Motown and people were being integrated because of the music and the spirit and the attitude the music expressed.” Morisseau explains, on the play’s interlacing elements. “And the Black power generation was starting to emerge.” For her, the characters represent the tensions going on in the city.

Starting March 23 and running until April 14, “Detroit ’67” moves uptown to the National Black Theatre of Harlem on 5th Ave. near 125th St.

Morriseau is an award winning playwright and a Playwrights of New York (PONY) Fellow, which enables her to live and create in New York City. “Detroit ’67” is the first of The Detroit Projects, three-play cycle, on her hometown Detroit that she is currently developing.

More from Around NYC