Joanna Glass' Palmer Park, a Visit to Post-Riot Detroit, Premieres at Stratford Aug. 8

News   Joanna Glass' Palmer Park, a Visit to Post-Riot Detroit, Premieres at Stratford Aug. 8 Stratford Shakespeare Festival's commitment to new work, in tandem with its longtime mission of producing classic titles, continues Aug. 8-Sept. 21 with the world premiere of Joanna McClelland Glass' Palmer Park.
Nigel Shawn Williams and Yanna McIntosh
Nigel Shawn Williams and Yanna McIntosh Photo by David Hou

Performances of the play, about "white flight" in a Detroit neighborhood, play the intimate Studio Theatre, in Stratford, Ontario. Canadian-born Glass, author of Trying and the Tony Award-nominated Play Memory, lived in Detroit following the race riots in 1967. Official opening is Aug. 16.

"Set in Detroit after the race riots of 1967, Palmer Park follows two professional couples — one black, the other white — as they strive to maintain the racial integration of their community," according to Stratford.

Ron OJ Parson directs a cast that includes Dan Chameroy and Kelli Fox as Martin and Kate Townsend; and Yanna McIntosh and Nigel Shawn Williams as Linda and Fletcher Hazelton; with Lesley Ewen, Kevin Hanchard, David W. Keeley, Brad Rudy, Jane Spidell and Severn Thompson.

According to Stratford notes, "In the six months after the Detroit race riots of 1967, nearly 300,000 names left the Detroit phone book. This exodus to the suburbs was called 'white flight.' In the aftermath, the large, beautiful houses of Palmer Park sold at bargain-basement prices, and the city's schools, funded by property taxes, became peripheral victims. Detroit's tax base was so eroded that the Board of Education found itself with a deficit of $7 million dollars."

The production team includes set designer Jessica Poirier-Chang, costume designer Katherine Lubienski, lighting designer Alan Brodie, sound designer Todd Charlton, video designer Mick McDonald, production dramaturge Keira Loughran, choreographer Dayna Tekatch, stage manager Bruno Gonsalves, assistant stage manager Angela Marshall and production stage manager Marylu Moyer. Glass was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Her plays have been produced in many North American regional theatres, as well as in England, Ireland, Australia and Germany. Her one-act plays, Canadian Gothic and American Modern, were first produced at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City in 1972. Artichoke, starring Colleen Dewhurst, was first produced at Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven, CT, in 1974. To Grandmother's House We Go, starring Eva LeGallienne, was first produced at the Alley Theatre, Houston, TX, moving to Broadway in 1980. Play Memory, directed by Harold Prince, was first produced at the McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton, NJ, and moved to Broadway in 1984. It was Tony Award-nominated that year as Best Play. Yesteryear was originally produced by the Canadian Stage Company in Toronto in 1989. If We Are Women premiered in the United States in the summer of 1993 at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. The Canadian premiere was a co-production between the Vancouver Playhouse and Canadian Stage Company in 1994. The British premiere was in London, starring Joan Plowright, directed by Richard Olivier.

Glass has written two novels, "Reflections on a Mountain Summer" and "Woman Wanted." She adapted both novels into screenplays for Lorimar Studios (Warner Bros). "Woman Wanted" was filmed in 1998, starring and directed by Kiefer Sutherland, also starring Holly Hunter and Michael Moriarty.

In 1984-85, Glass was awarded a Rockefeller grant. She was playwright-in-residence at Yale Repertory Theatre. Other grants have included the National Endowment for the Arts in 1980 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1981. Glass won the Francesca Primus Award in 1994 and the Berrilla Kerr Award in 2000.

Trying was first presented by Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago in spring 2004; the play won the Jeff Award for Best New Play. Trying was then produced in New York City at the Promenade Theater in 2004-05. The Canadian premiere was at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in September 2004, followed by a Canadian Stage Company production in Toronto in April 2005. Trying has now enjoyed more than 40 productions in both the United States and Canada.

The production opens officially on Aug. 16 and plays in repertory. Tickets are available through the box office at (800) 567-1600 or online at www.stratfordshakespearefestival.com.

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The 2008 Stratford playbill features Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew, All's Well That Ends Well, Caesar and Cleopatra, The Music Man, Cabaret, Emilia Galotti, The Trojan Women, Love's Labour's Lost, Fuente Ovejuna, There Reigns Love, Hughie/Krapp's Last Tape, Palmer Park, Moby Dick and Shakespeare's Universe (Her Infinite Variety).

The cast of <i>Palmer Park</i>
The cast of Palmer Park Photo by David Hou
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