The Parchman Hour: Theatrical Presentation and Panel

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

8:00 PM

10:00 PM

Kenan Theatre, UNC main campus

The Parchman Hour: The Songs and Stories of the '61 Freedom Riders

Thurs., Dec 2 - Sun., Dec. 6

Kenan Theatre on UNC's campus
Special panel to follow 8:00 p.m. performance on Dec. 2 co-sponsored by UNCCPWO
$5 general admission; UNC drama students free

In 1961, a group of mostly young people came together from across the United States -- leaving families, college campuses, and jobs -- to board buses headed for the Deep South. Their plan was simple, quite innocuous in fact. Integrated teams would embark on interstate trips and simply ignore the signs designed to segregate them by race. What could be more harmless?
These simple acts of nonviolent direct action landed many of the riders in jail. Some were beaten and hospitalized. Some were sent to the infamous Parchman Penitentiary in Mississippi.

On the eve of the 50th anniversary of these Freedom Rides, actor and playwright Mike Wiley (Dar He: The Story of Emmett Till and the theatrical adaptation of the best-selling Blood Done Sign My Name ) makes his directorial debut with his latest production, The Parchman Hour .

The UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity is co-sponsoring a panel discussion following the Dec. 2 opening performance.  The panel, moderated by Prof. Gene Nichol, will include Mr. Wiley and freedom riders Charles Jones and Bill Svanoe.

Presented in the style of the variety shows of yesteryear, this moving production explores three of the tensest months of 1961. The Parchman Hour brings to the stage powerful oral histories and conversations from the Freedom Rides' most iconic protagonists and antagonists alike. The production is the result of Wiley's two-semester residency at Duke and UNC as Visiting Joint Chair Professor in Documentary Studies and American Studies, through the Lehman Brady Visiting Professorship program.  It involves students from both campuses as well as members of the broader community. Wiley has been teaching classes in documentary theater, which engaged students in researching, writing, and performing a play. The Parchman Hour represents the fruition of their work. 

Tickets are $5. Showtimes are Dec. 2 at 8:00 p.m. with panel to follow; Dec. 3 at 8:00 p.m. with gala reception to follow; Dec. 4  at 2:00 p.m.; Dec. 5  at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.; and Dec. 6  at 6:00 p.m.  Email for ticket reservations , with the date and time of the requested show, and number of tickets desired. Tickets may be picked up at the Kenan Theatre Box Office beginning one- hour before each performance. 


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