New student performance of AFTER/LIFE to commemorate the Detroit 1967 uprising

April 18, 2017

On Friday, April 28th, the first of two preliminary performances of AFTER/LIFE begins at 7:30 p.m. in the RCAH Theater at Snyder-Phillips Hall. A second performance will take place in the RCAH Theater on Saturday, April 29th at 2 p.m.

Conceived and written by Dr. Lisa Biggs, assistant professor at Michigan State University’s RCAH, and her students, AFTER/LIFE is a powerful piece based on the true stories of young women and girls who chased police, lit fires, threw bricks, shoplifted, and much more during the upheaval that took place in Detroit in July 1967. Through the stage reading, audiences will learn what really motivated the unrest, and about the determination of Detroit’s women and girls’ to rebuild their city and their lives.

“In the '60s women were largely prevented from taking public leadership roles in business and in politics. Women are always the workers, but too often they don't get the recognition they deserve. As a result, stories of the uprising don’t represent their experiences,” stated Biggs on the motivation behind the project. “Women were at the ignition point of the riot–the unlicensed club or “blind pig” on 12th and Clairmount. They were involved in the crisis responses, and in efforts to rebuild the city afterwards. AFTER/LIFE is an opportunity for audiences to learn about the events that led up to the rebellion and its aftermath, through the eyes of women and girls who were there.”

AFTER/LIFE was created collaboratively with Biggs’ RCAH 291 Arts Workshop course, the Detroit ’67 Performance Project. The class began by finding and interviewing women who were involved with the 1967 rebellion. The students then evolved those stories into the show that it is now.

After the student workshop performances at MSU, the show will travel to Detroit to be performed during the July commemorations of the 1967 uprising at the Joseph Walker Williams Center.

AFTER/LIFE is the second event taking place in RCAH this semester to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1967 uprising and to share often overlooked perspectives. Through a Black Lens: Detroit 1967, an exhibition of African-American photojournalism and photographs, videos, and other eyewitness accounts from the urban upheaval, will be on display in the RCAH’s LookOut! Art Gallery through April 20.

Both performances of AFTER/LIFE in the RCAH Theater are free and open to the public. Ages 8+ recommended.

AFTER/LIFE is supported by MSU’s Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, the Michigan Humanities Council, and RCAH.