Courtesy of National Black Theater
Courtesy of National Black Theater

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company announced it will add Liza Jessie Peterson’s “The Peculiar Patriot” to its 2018-19 season in April.

The production will be directed by Talvin Wilks and presented in association with National Black Theatre and Hi-ARTS, which produced the world premiere production in September 2017 in New York City. Peterson’s play will be replacing Heidi Schreck’s “What the Constitution Means to Me,” which just announced a transfer to Broadway this spring.

“I am thrilled for the opportunity to add Liza Jessie Peterson’s timely and urgently needed show, ‘The Peculiar Patriot,’ to this season at Woolly,” said Maria Manuela Goyanes, Woolly Mammoth artistic director. “She deftly unpacks the human impact of mass incarceration in America, turning statistics into real, relatable, and hilarious stories that will stay with you for long after you leave the theater.”

Betsy LaQuanda Ross is a self-proclaimed “peculiar patriot” who makes regular visits to penitentiaries in order to boost the morale of her loved ones. When she is not sharing neighborhood updates and gossip, Betsy illuminates our country’s cruel and unjust criminal justice system and its impact not only on the 2.5 million people behind bars, but also their family and friends.

Written and performed by Peterson and inspired by her decadeslong work with prison populations including on the notorious Rikers Island, “The Peculiar Patriot” is an indictment of the systemic inequity within America’s fastest-growing industry, tracing its roots from the plantation to the prison yard.

Following a successful run at New York Theatre Workshop this fall, Schreck’s “What the Constitution Means to Me” play will transfer to Broadway for a 12-week limited engagement at the Helen Hayes Theater, starting March 14 after it was originally scheduled for D.C.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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