Thursday, November 19, 2015

Relive the Los Angeles riots in Detroit

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 5:45 AM

Soldiers patrol a Los Angeles street in 1992.
  • Soldiers patrol a Los Angeles street in 1992.

This weekend, Detroiters have an opportunity to experience a remarkable piece of drama given a big staging. 

It's a production of Anna Deavere Smith's stunning work of documentary theater: Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992.

As we all know by now, Los Angeles erupted into civil disorder following a jury's acquittal of the officers who beat up Rodney King. When the smoke had cleared and the damage had been appraised at more than $2 billion, Smith began working on the play, doing it more like a journalist than a dramatist. She spent nine months interviewing 200 people regarding the events surrounding the King beating, the jury trial, and the rebellion that followed.

The play, which was originally presented as a one-person show, draws heavily on interviews with 35 people, ranging from Cornell West and Maxine Waters to several jurors from the trial, and even beaten truck driver Reginald Denny.

The Rosedale Park Players, Detroit's oldest neighborhood theater group, is staging the play with more than 30 individual actors. It should be an opportunity to listen to some of the voices that didn't get the media's full attention at the moment of crisis. And, given the way recent events have created flareups between largely black communities and police, now might be a good time to return to the 1990s and see what lessons were learned then.

Upcoming performances take place at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22, at Rosedale Park Community House, 18445 Scarsdale St., Detroit; $16. To reserve a seat, call Marcia Closson, at 313-835-1103. For more information, see parkplayers.wordpress.com.


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