Seven playwrights, including MacArthur Genius Fellow Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, are creating original new short plays to be presented at the McCarter Theatre Center as part of Princeton University’s “Princeton and Slavery Project,” exploring the links between the New Jersey university and the institution of slavery in the early and mid 19th century.
The university has commissioned short plays from Jacobs-Jenkins, plus Nathan Alan Davis, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Dipika Guha, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Emily Mann, and Regina Taylor. The public readings will be directed by Patricia McGregor and presented in November at dates to be announced.
The plays will be based on historical material, letters, and artifacts unearthed by Princeton Professor of History Martha A. Sandweiss, University Archivist Daniel Linke, and a team of undergraduates and doctoral history students during their research into the influence of slavery on the university in the years leading up to its abolition after the Civil War.
Sandweiss released a statement explaining, “From the start, we’ve wanted to bring our findings to a broad public in ways that extend well beyond the conventional academic symposium. The historical records sometimes fall flat, remaining silent when we so want to hear our characters’ voices. This is where the playwrights’ imaginations come in. I see our work together as a true collaboration, leading to a richer and more imaginative, but historically grounded, understanding of the past.”
For more information on the “Princeton and Slavery Project,” visit www.mccarter.org.