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“After/Life” brings forth women’s voices from Detroit’s 1967 rebellion

Jul 25, 2017

One powerful way to bear witness to history is through theater.

AFTER/LIFE is a living history play based on oral histories of women and girls who lived through the Detroit ’67 rebellion.

The play was conceived by Dr. Lisa Biggs, an assistant professor in Theater and Performance Studies at Michigan State University. It features oral histories from women left out of news accounts, and teaches students about one of Detroit's pivotal moments.

Biggs, along with actor and poet Deborah Chenault Green, joined Stateside to talk about the performance, and Green’s personal account living through the ’67 rebellion.

“Women have been my greatest teachers, time and time and time again. When I was learning about the events of ’67, I was really concerned with the lack of their voices in the public narrative,” Biggs said. “I wanted to create a project in which we could listen to them and address some of those gaps.”

Directed by Kristin Horton, the play is a compilation of monologues, poems and dances. Green described what was brewing on 12th street before the rebellion with her poem "12th Street Pre-67."

Listen to the full conversation above to hear more details, memories from Green’s Detroit childhood, and her take on how the rebellion changed that community. 

The next performance dates are July 27 & 28 at the Joseph Walker Williams Center in Detroit. 

From July 17-28, Michigan Radio is looking back at Detroit in 1967, the Summer of Rebellion. We’ll explore the issues that led to one of the deadliest civil disturbances in American history and examine why it still resonates in the city today.

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