Illinois State University School of Theatre and Dance proudly presents the first virtual performance of the 2020-2021 school year, Pipeline by Dominique Morisseau, directed by M.F.A. in directing candidate Britannia Howe. A recipient of the 2018 MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant, Morisseau is a Detroit-based playwright and actress whose plays “juxtapose beauty with destruction, hope with despair, and bring to light the complicated realities of urban African American communities,” the Foundation writes.

Pipeline will be presented live via Zoom with performances October 22–24 at 7:30 p.m. Performances are free to attend. Registration is required and limited to 300 attendees. Registrants will receive a link to view the performance from the Center for the Performing Arts Box Office on the day of the production.

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Pipeline dramatizes the school to prison “pipeline” that has grown out of public education and public policy within the United States and has disproportionately affected young men and women of color. The play’s poetic dialogue provides a lens into how educators and students alike become wrapped up in a broken system, punishing students and exhausting bright educators. Director Britannia Howe “[encourages] audiences to look to the relationships in the play and celebrate the language. Not only do you hear poetry from Gwendolyn Brooks, but Dominque Morisseau’s words hold symbols and are full of poetry.”

Playbill cover for PIPELINE. Image of school hallway with lockers and two boys fighting superimposed. Image includes author, director, dates of performances and performance rights.

Pipeline will be presented on October 22, 23, and 24 via Zoom.

The play follows the rippling repercussions faced by high school student Omari, played by sophomore Terrence Mayfield, who receives a third “strike” at his private school following an altercation with a teacher that was filmed by other students. Single mother and educator Nya, played by junior Alexis Harris-Dyer, must come to grips with what this means not only for her son’s immediate future but also for the perception that others—especially powerful others—will have of him.

“She has given her life to her career as a school teacher,” Howe said. “But now she struggles as the system she has given so much to is threatening her son.”

Pipeline tackles a myriad of issues involving prejudice and privilege and highlights a mother’s fight for her son’s future in a world divided by race, money, and class.

“This play shows the tragic path that leads young black men either to prison or to an early death,” Howe describes. “It is an urgent conversation for our present time in 2020.”

Pipeline has been made available at no cost due to the generosity of donors who regularly support the School of Theatre and Dance. Please consider making a gift to help support future programs.

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