WOW Productions, a Columbia-based theater company, will be performing Jeanette Hill’s social justice play ‘Don’t Call Me Brother’ on March 15-31.
The award-winning play centers around an African American police officer and his struggle to reconcile disparate parts of his identity when he is given the responsibility of dealing with the fallout after an unarmed African American teenager is killed in a police shooting.
Compelled by recent riots in Ferguson, MO, playwright Jeanette Hill began speaking with police officials to understand the position of African American police officers.
“I’m thinking what must it be like for these officers to be African American, understand the plight … of African Americans … but also know that you take an oath and what your job is … I started thinking about that and how they must feel and then I talked to several police officers about how they deal with things like that, and when they know that there’s racism in the police force, how do they deal with that on a day-to-day basis and then how do they come back to their families and their community and answer to them.”
Hill hopes that the play will also open up a discussion about police and community problems.
“[The audience] can learn that both sides have issues and that it’s time to stop pointing fingers. It’s time for us to start figuring out how we can work together … Neither side will ever win the way we are right now.”
Tangie Beaty, CEO and founder of WOW Productions and co-director of the play, appreciates the show’s relevance and it’s thought-provoking nature. She also recognizes the challenge of producing such an evocative show.
“It’s been one of those where there are emotions, there are feelings, there are opinions about the matter on both sides, surprisingly,” said Beaty. “So it’s really taking a toll on us to really look at, what is our involvement and what can we do as artists … to kind of help open up the dialogue without the anger and be able to come to a conclusion as to what we can do from this point forward.”
In an effort to further facilitate community dialogue, WOW Productions is hosting a discussion panel with the Richland County Police Department after their performance on March 18.
“We can sit down and … have a decent conversation because both sides have relevant issues and it’s really time to kind of come together,” said Beaty. “We’re trying to pull together just a plethora of people to come in and talk about this issue … hopefully we’ll have a great time and we’ll have a great discussion.”
For more information about WOW Productions or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.wowproduction.org.