Detroit Public Theater’s ‘Detroit ’67’ takes audience on an emotional journey

The first time Detroit native Carollette Phillips saw “Detroit ’67,” a play that tells the story of one family amid the uprising that reshaped the city more than 50 years ago, she had such a visceral reaction she had to leave the theater at one point.

“This could be right now,” said Phillips, an actress who now lives in Los Angeles.

That relevancy is one reason why Detroit Public Theater decided to bring back “Detroit ’67,” staging its newest production at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Beginning Wednesday and running through June 11 at the museum’s General Motors Theater, the play, written by Dominique Morisseau, another Detroit native and Detroit Public Theater’s executive artistic producer, that devastating period in 1967 and its impacts on one family, their decisions and everyone around them.

“I grew up hearing ‘race riot’ and now it is in my bones that it was a rebellion,” said Edmund Alyn Jones, the actor who plays Langston “Lank” Hughes Poindexter, one of the lead characters, opposite Phillips, who plays Chelle, his sister. “It was people being treated wrong and standing up.”

But even though the play, directed by Detroit Public Theater veteran Brian Marable, delves into such a devastating period, there’s a lot of joy, too, said Jones.

“We laugh a lot during the show and as a cast,” he said.

Still, the show is an “emotional roller coaster,” said actor Henrí Franklin, who plays Lank’s best friend Sly. He hopes it sparks conversations.

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