Week 13: The heat of American history

Written by Michele Cobb on Wednesday, July 29, 2015


You'll hear powerful characters in the intense titles that are paired this week--as well as slices of the American experience that continue to resonate today.

We approach the end of summer, a time that many find as a period of reflection. Our penultimate SYNC 2015 pair brings together two titles set in the past that can encourage us to consider how yesterday's news--even when yesterday is fifty or 75 years ago--resonates this year. It's 2015 and we experience the impact of racism in our society, directly or indirectly through media reports and informal discussions, just as this week's titles explore it in the 20th century. 

JOHN BALL'S IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, Matt Pelfrey's adaptation of the 1960's off-Broadway production, could have been ripped from today's headlines. The full cast performance by L.A. Theatre Works contains strong language and racial slurs appropriate to its story of Virgil Tibbs, a black California police detective, played by Ryan Vincent Anderson, and the white police chief of an Alabama town, performed by James Morrison, through which he happens to be passing when a murder is discovered. 

COURAGE HAS NO COLOR takes us back even further to a time when those fighting the same fight in the name of the United States military were segregated by race. Author Tanya Lee Stone is well known for writing nonfiction that grips young readers with all the plotting and character development of good fiction. Award-winning narrator JD Jackson brings listeners right into the time and place of  World War II and the racial inequities experienced by African American soldiers as well as interned Japanese Americans. Thanks to Brilliance Audio for making this production available as our teen audiobook this week. 

Here's a link to a short video excerpt from L.A. Theatre Works' live touring production of this week's classic selection, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHTYou can find resources about the Triple Nickles, the basis for COURAGE HAS NO COLOR, online as well.


Related Articles


Thank you for contacting us!

A member of our staff will be in touch soon.
Thanks for your interest!

Back Home ×