LITTLE ROCK: AN AMERICAN PLAY
Written and directed by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj
WHEN: October 2-26, Thursday-Saturday @ 8 PM; Sunday @ 3 PM
WHERE: The Mill Hill Playhouse 205 E. Front Street, Trenton, NJ 08611. On-street patrolled parking available.
TICKETS: $30-$35 (student and senior rates available)
Tickets may be purchased on line at www.passagetheatre.org or calling 609.392.0766 between 11 AM and 5 PM
Parking and Directions: Please refer to www.passagetheatre.org
Told in music and memory, Little Rock is the courageous story of the nine black students who fought for integration at Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The story hurtles from present to past, tragedy to triumph. They never planned to be change agents, and they didn’t consider themselves heroes. They just wanted to go to school.
“I cannot imagine a better story to tell in Trenton. Trenton actually has a community member living amongst us who was one of the students from the original group who started out for school that first day in 1957. Delois Harris, wife of The Reverend Harris of Galilee Baptist Church, was pointed out to me my first season at Passage 18 years ago,” remembers June Ballinger, Passage’s Artistic Director. "What set the course for the stand the Little Rock students took was a law that had been in existence for over 10 years but was being ignored—Hedgepeth and Williams vs. Board of Education, Trenton, NJ. The 1944 NJ Supreme Court case was brought to the court by two mothers, Gladys Hedgepeth and Berline Williams, who sued the Trenton Board of Education over racial discrimination against their children…and won. It was a precursor to the Brown vs. Brown decision that prohibited racial segregation of school systems throughout the United States. But Little Rock Arkansas in 1957, regardless of federal law, did not adhere.”
Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj will direct the production which features a cast of nine actors hailing from New York and New Jersey. He started Rebel Theater Company in 2003 in New York City, and is currently Producing Artistic Director of that company. Maharaj has made an imprint as a director of very diverse, social and political theater about American history. He has directed regionally, including "The Wiz" and many other plays at Arkansas Rep. He directed George C. Wolfe’s “ A Colored Museum” in New Jersey at the Crossroads Theater. He is the former Associate Artistic Director of Syracuse Stage and Lark Play Development Center and has held artistic residencies with The Public Theatre, Freedom Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Kennedy Center, Crossroads Theatre, Lark Play Development Center, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, and Amas Musical Theatre.
When asked why this story needs to be told now, director Rajendra Maharaj states, “I think that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And if you look at our country today, from Sanford, Florida to Ferguson, Missouri, the need for racial equality and tolerance is vital as it was during the Civil Rights Movement. Education is, and will always be, the key to opportunity, access, happiness, and freedom in the United States of America. And Little Rock illuminates that through the eyes of nine children whose simple desire to go to school and follow the law, changed the trajectory of our country forever. Little Rock, at its heart, reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Thoreau, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams and live the life you imagined.”
Passage Theatre’s mainstage season is made possible in part by the N.J. State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; The Schubert Foundation; The City of Trenton; WIMG 1300; The Curtis McGraw Foundation; PNC Bank; The Garfield Foundation; The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey; Mary G. Roebling Foundation; The Bunbury Company and many individual donations.