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Two River hosting series of free humanities programs focused on race

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Two River Theater is hosting An Exploration of Justice, a series of free humanities programs focused on race, the Civil Rights movement, and evolving issues of equality. These programs, which are part of Inside Two River, are supported by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities and will be presented in connection with the theater’s production of Trouble in Mind by Alice Childress, running April 5-27, 2014 under the direction of Jade King Carroll.

Alice Childress was the first African-American woman to have a play professionally produced in New York City. Her 1955 drama Trouble in Mind—now considered a seminal American theater classic—uses a play-within-a-play structure to dramatize how people talk about race. Set during rehearsals of a Southern drama that is being performed by a modern, newly integrated theater company in New York, Trouble in Mind is a deep, complex and bitingly funny look at racial stereotypes and the struggle for public and private equality.

Together, Trouble in Mind and the Exploration of Justice humanities programs will be a lens through which Two River’s artists, audiences, and larger community can come together to look at our shared history as Americans before the Civil Rights Movement; the specific history of racial inequities and the fight for social justice in Red Bank and Monmouth County; and the continuing challenges facing our region and the world right now.

Upcoming free programs include the following panels:

The Fight for Social Justice and Equality in Red Bank and Monmouth County, Monday, February 10, 7 pm, Red Bank Elks Lodge, 306 Shrewsbury Avenue

This panel discussion will illuminate the struggle for social equality of this community in the 1950s and ’60s—and the challenges we still face today—and included insights from lifelong Red Bank resident and Civil Rights activist Flo Apy; Dr. Walter Greason, Monmouth University professor and the author of Suburban Erasure: How the Suburbs Ended the Civil Rights Movement in New Jersey and The Path to Freedom: Black Families in New Jersey; Sharon Lee, a former four-term Red Bank Borough Council Member; and community activist and Brookdale College professorGilda Rogers. There will also be a special display of period photographs from Dorn’s Photography.

The Life and Career of Alice Childress, Monday, March 17, 7pm, Marion Huber Theater
Dr. Farah Griffin, Professor of English and African-American Studies at Columbia University and Director of the Institute for Research and African-American Studies, will lecture on the life and career of Alice Childress and discuss the challenges facing African-Americans in the 1950s and the work Childress did as a social activist for the rights of blacks, women, and the working class.

Modern African-American Theater (1950s to Today), Sunday, April 13, 5:30pm, Rechnitz Theater

Following the matinee performance of Trouble in Mind, leading theater artists will discuss modern African-American drama from the 1950s to the present day. This panel will be introduced and moderated by Two River Artistic Director John Dias and include Jade King Carroll, the director of Trouble in Mind; actor Brenda Pressley, who will play Wiletta in Trouble in Mind; and Tony Award-winning actor, playwright and director Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who has directed productions of two plays by August Wilson at Two River.

“At Two River Theater, we strive always to deepen our relationships with our audiences and our community,” says Artistic Director John Dias. “With the support of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, we are able to host lectures, panel discussions and other programming around our upcoming production of Alice Childress’ groundbreaking play Trouble in Mind, exploring issues such as race in theater, and the history of civil rights in our area. It’s the kind of scope we always hope to provide for our audiences, and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities has helped us achieve it.”

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