UCI Drama Presents "Detroit ’67"

Dominique Morisseau’s play focuses on family ties during the historic Detroit race riots

Irvine, Calif., January 27, 2021 – UC Irvine’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts Department of Drama presents Detroit ’67, a story focused on relationships during the historic 1967 race riots in Michigan. The play is written by Dominique Morisseau and guest directed by Margaret Laurena Kemp. The show will be performed and presented online for four performances, Feb. 4-7, 2021. 

Detroit ’67 tells the story of Chelle and her brother Lank. They are making ends meet by turning their basement into an unlicensed after-hours joint filled with the sounds of Motown music – risky business – especially during a brutal police crackdown that has set off uprisings throughout the city. When Lank offers refuge to a mysterious woman, the siblings clash over much more than the family business. As their pent-up feelings erupt, so does their city, and they find themselves caught in the middle of the ’67 riots.

Guest director Margaret Laurena Kemp joins the UCI creative team from UC Davis, where she serves as an associate professor of theatre & dance. Kemp devised the performances for Zoom, focusing on the challenges of pace and tension. Detroit ’67 is the first in Morrisseau’s Detroit Project, a series of plays rooted (literally) in the soil. Kemp says the stage directions, which take up the first page of the play, poetically ask us to look at the soil and see the narrative’s tangled roots/history.

“Like Morrisseau, I am an artist working to untangle the historical knots that threaten our nation,” said Kemp. “The soil that is Detroit ’67 is rich with love, art, family and possibility. Each of the five characters grow from seeds in the opening act to fully blossoming humanity at the play’s end. The play is an invitation to confront the past while laying the groundwork for the reckoning that is needed to build a shared future.”

Detroit ’67 is the second presentation in UCI Drama’s 2020-21 virtual season. For more information about the season and shows, visit the department website: drama.arts.uci.edu/on-stage.

Performances and Ticket Information
Online (viewing portals available on the Claire Trevor School of the Arts website.)
Evenings: Feb. 4*, 5* at 7:00 p.m. Pacific
Matinees: Feb. 6, 7* at 3:00 p.m. Pacific.
Free and open to the public

The UCI Drama production team will host a dedicated post-performance TalkBack on Feb. 2, 5, and 7 with the creative team and cast.


About UCI Claire Trevor School of the Arts: As UCI’s creative laboratory, the Claire Trevor School of the Arts explores and presents the arts as the essence of human experience and expression, through art forms ranging from the most traditional to the radically new. The international faculty works across a wide variety of disciplines, partnering with others across the campus.  National-ranked programs in art, dance, drama, and music begin with training but end in original invention. Students come to UCI to learn to be citizen-artists, to sharpen their skills and talents, and to become the molders and leaders of world culture. For more information, visit www.arts.uci.edu.