National Black Theatre has teamed up with Hi-ARTS once again for a return engagement of The Peculiar Patriot, written and performed by Liza Jessie Peterson with direction by Talvin Wilks. The multimedia solo show, which debuted to critical acclaim last fall (it also sold out), is a profound and critical look at the national mass incarceration crisis.
The Peculiar Patriot will play July 11–29 at Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre. A national tour, kicking off in the fall, is also in the works, with stops planned in Boston, Massachusetts; Burlington, Vermont; Cleveland, Ohio; and more.
The monologue play follows protagonist Betsy LaQuanda Ross, a self-proclaimed peculiar patriot, as she makes regular visits to penitentiaries to boost the morale of her incarcerated friends and family, and navigates love amid barbed wire.
Peterson was inspired to write the play by her own work in New York City prisons over the last two decades. The Peculiar Patriot looks at the business of the criminal justice system (those who are profiting), examines the human impact, and shines a light on the racial disparities inherent within.
“Tropes dealing with Black identity have been baked into this country and have made people of African descent into this society’s prey. Not only are these stereotypes inaccurate, they are also dangerous and highly misogynistic as Black women’s pain in particular is siloed,” said National Black Theatre CEO Sade Lythcott. “This piece challenges those notions and allows us as a community to tackle the need to dismantle America's prison industrial complex, centered on how it impacts Black women and helps heal communities and the nation at large.”
Peterson, an actor, writer, poet, and activist, has performed excerpts from The Peculiar Patriot in over 35 penitentiaries across the country. She was also featured in Ava DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated documentary The 13th.
The Peculiar Patriot features scenic and lighting design by Maruti Evans, projections by Katherine Freer, and sound design by Luqman Brown.
For tickets visit NationalBlackTheatre.org, call NBT at (212) 722-3800, or go to NBT's box office, open from 1 to 6 PM, located at 2031 Fifth Avenue, New York.