My Pulp preview of EMU’s production of ‘Detroit ’67’

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Brother and sister Lank (Darien Vaughn) and Chelle (Tayler Jones) face problems after they inherit their parent’s Motor City home in Detroit ’67. (Photo by Eastern Michigan University Theatre)

Historical events, when presented as a series of statistics and dates, have far less impact on us than they do when integrated into a human story.

This is why, of course, history is the backdrop for so many movies, plays, television shows, and novels. These entertainments let us briefly experience what it was like to be living when a specific historical moment was unfolding around us. And most recently, in our own backyard, the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit Riots/Rebellion — depending on who’s telling the story — spawned a number of creative works that helped us revisit this pivotal moment in the Motor City’s history.

University of Michigan graduate (and Detroit native) Dominique Morisseau got a bit of a jump on things, premiering her play, Detroit ’67, in New York in 2013. The drama — now being staged by Eastern Michigan University’s Theater Department — won the 2014 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History, and ended up being the first in a Morisseau-penned trilogy focused on Detroit’s past. (Paradise Blue and Skeleton Crew were the second and third.)

But helping audiences go back in time, to a particular place, requires attention to detail, so expect to hear Motown tunes; spot script-specified images of Muhammad Ali, a black power fist, and The Four Tops on the walls; and see clothes and appliances from the play’s era. “We have a washing machine with a crank on top that I swear was on my mother’s porch back in 1962,” said EMU Theater Professor Wallace Bridges, who’s directing Detroit ’67. READ THE REST HERE

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