Youth-produced plays inspired by talks with Richmond cops, public defenders


Two evening performances at the East Bay Center for Performing Arts (EBCPA) this Thursday and Friday, both starting at 7 p.m., employ language taken straight from the mouths of Richmond police officers, public defenders, inmates and community members.

This unique example of documentary theater — costing just $5 for general admission and $3 for youth and families (tickets here) — were produced by students in the Leadership Public Schools Drama Department, which partnered with EBCPA’s Iron Voices Project for Intersections 2016.

This is the second year of a project where drama teacher Lizzy Gore connected her classes with the Richmond Police Department and the Safe Return Project, a Richmond organization empowering formerly incarcerated people.

This year’s project took shape when nine police officers, two public defenders and three community activists visited the LPS drama classes for a theater and storytelling workshop.

Along with icebreaker games, the students and guests used theater exercises to bring controversial stories about use of force, police brutality and the justice system to life, according to program officials.

Eighty-five-percent of the dialogue in the student-produced plays were taken verbatim from conversations with the public officials and community members.

With coaching from Maurice Nunn, Iron Voices youth project lead, the students are now prepared to perform their productions and to continue this important dialogue.

The East Bay Center for the Performing Arts is located at 339 11th St. in Richmond.