NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Nikkole Salter’s Repairing a Nation, a compelling new family drama that exposes the deep unhealed legacy of the Tulsa race riots of 1921, will be staged at Crossroads Theatre Company Feb. 26 through March 8.
Repairing a Nation is the story of the fictional Davis family of Oklahoma, whose holiday celebration in 2001 becomes tense when Lois Davis pressures them to join a class-action lawsuit that seeks reparations for the historic riots that destroyed the family’s livelihood 80 years earlier.
The devastating riots have been called the worst incident of racial violence in American history. Though official counts are still uncertain, it is believed that hundreds of, and possibly as many as 1,000 African Americans were killed or injured over a two-day period. Businesses, homes and hospitals in Tulsa’s Greenwood district were burned or vandalized by whites avenging an alleged assault on a white woman by a young black man. Police looked the other way as the destruction ensued and instead arrested 10,000 black residents. Until that time, Greenwood was known as “Black Wall Street” – the wealthiest black area in the country. An investigation by the state of Oklahoma in the 1990s led to calls for reparations to the community.
Salter’s drama offers the Tulsa race riots’ complicated place in history as a counterweight to a family’s anguished debate over its own buried history. Above all a family drama, Repairing a Nation explores the nature of apology and inherited wounds; forgiveness, fairness, justice and healing within a family and a people.
Marshall Jones III, Crossroads’ Producing Artistic Director, is directing Repairing a Nation.
“Nikkole Salter is a truly gifted writer who immerses herself in subjects and distills them in such a way as to uncover a unique and compelling story,” said Jones. “In Repairing a Nation, she grabs the controversial subject of reparations and, cleverly using metaphors as well as recognizable characters, conducts a fierce debate in a compelling style reminiscent of August Wilson.”
The cast includes Obie Award-winning actress Stephanie Berry, Chantal Jean-Pierre, Phil McGlaston, Angel Moore, and Jeffrey Sanchez.
Berry also is a playwright, whose work, The Last Fall, premiered at Crossroads in 2010. McGlaston recently appeared in Fences at the McCarter Theater in Princeton. Jean-Pierre has appeared at Crossroads in Sheila’s Day and Raisin in the Sun. Jean-Pierre, McGlaston, Sanchez and Moore are all graduates of the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers.
Repairing a Nation was completed by Salter as a part of NYU's 2012-13 Writer's Roundtable. It was presented as a staged reading at Crossroads last year. An actor as well as playwright, she won an Obie Award in 2006 for In the Continuum, in which she acted and co-wrote. The play also won the New York Outer Critics Circle's John Gassner Award for Best New American Play that year, among other awards.
Last fall, Salter’s Lines in the Dust was presented to critical acclaim at the Luna Stage in West Orange. Her drama, Carnaval, premiered in New York at the National Black Theatre, and was presented to critical acclaim at Luna Stage in West Orange in 2013.
Salter is an associate teaching artist with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and Almasi Arts, and is founder and executive director of The Continuum Project, Inc., a nonprofit organization that creates innovative artistic programming for community empowerment and enrichment. She also has taught in school theater programs in East Orange, Newark and Plainfield.
Founded in 1978 by Ricardo Khan and L. Kenneth Richardson, Crossroads Theatre Company embraces the vision that African-American theater is intended for a broad-based, diverse audience. As a major force in the development of new ideas and the introduction of formerly marginalized writers, Crossroads produces works that enrich and diversify the representation of African American culture on the American stage.
Repairing a Nation
Crossroads Theatre Company
7 Livingston Ave.
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Feb. 26-March 8, 2015
Performance schedule: 8 p.m., Feb. 26, 27, 28; March 5, 6, 7
3 p.m., March 1, 7, 8 (March 7 matinee has post-show discussion)
10 a.m., March 4. Student/senior matinee with post-show discussion
Opening Night: 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 28 with post-show reception
Tickets: $25, $35, $45
$55 for opening night show and reception
Purchase online: www.crossroadstheatrecompany.org
Telephone: (732) 545-8100