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‘BALTIMORE’ SEEKS TO SPARK OPEN DIALOGUES ON RACE

By Josh Magness, The Diamondback

Photo courtesy of Jared Schaubert

On Nov. 9, University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe resigned after student protests decrying his responses to on-campus racial tensions dragged on for well over a month. On that same day, just hours after Wolfe's resignation, hundreds of Yale University students marched in response to a heated debate over cultural appropriation, sparked by a university official's comment that "increasingly, it seems, [American universities] have become places of censure and prohibition."

Playwright Kirsten Greenidge, in response to those protests, wrote a play.

From Feb. 26 to March 5, Greenidge's Baltimore, a tale that aims to spark dialogue about the contentious racial issues sweeping U.S. universities, will hit the Kay Theatre stage in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland.

The play follows Shelby Wilson, a newly hired resident adviser, who soon discovers a racially charged incident has left eight students, diverse in their races and their opinions, squarely at odds with one another. This leaves Wilson to navigate the complexities of identity in hopes of remedying to the tricky situation.

Philip Kershaw, one of the production's actors, said Baltimore sets itself apart from other plays by the way it addresses racial tensions. Instead of conversations that often go nowhere, an all-too-common occurrence in our modern discourse about race, the play encourages an open dialogue from people of all backgrounds, Kershaw said.

Baltimore is about "how people from different backgrounds can engage in the same conversation and have a good conversation — a meaningful one without devolving into just a mess," the senior history and theatre major said. "So, what does a conversation look like, and what does that conversation include?"

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Date of Publication: 
2/21/16