University Theatre to showcase Detroit ‘67

Derek Brown and Jimmy Haynie audition for the play "Detroit '67" in the Dennis & Cheryl Woods Theatre on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. Photo By: Larry Valenzuela

“Detroit ‘67”, a play written by Dominique Morisseau, will showcase this March in the Dennis & Cheryl Woods Theatre in the Speech Arts building at Fresno State. 

According to the synopsis, “Detroit ‘67” will tell the story of conflicting siblings against a backdrop of the race riots that shook Detroit, Michigan, in the summer of 1967.

A brother and sister by the name of Chelle and Lank recently inherited their childhood home. Scraping up enough money to make ends meet, they decide to convert their basement into a small private club. The Lanks find a badly beaten white woman by the name of Caroline on their way home one night. This complicates things as Chelle agrees to let her work in their basement, a decision that she will soon regret. 

Fresno State play director Thomas-Whit Ellis describes the play as a very good look at present day racial injustice and intolerance through the lens of America 50 years ago. 

“Much of what we see today in terms of rampant excessive force by law enforcement, judicial bias, under employment and poverty, is pretty much the way it was then, “Ellis said. “In most of the important social and political aspects of this nation, the needle hasn’t moved.” 

Auditions for the play took place Tuesday Jan. 21, and Wednesday Jan. 22, many students auditioned, including Jimmy Haynie.

Haynie has been in many plays previously and hopes to land the character Sly. “He is very vibrant, radiant and full of life,” Haynie said. He is not used to playing these sort of characters, and believes this will be a good experience.

The audition process, was a “cold read,” which is an on-the-spot performance, according to the students. 

“Detroit ‘67” will begin on March 20 and run until March 28. All performances will be at 7:30 p.m., except for the 2 p.m. matinee on March 22. No performance will be held on March 23.

For any further information, contact Thomas-Whit Ellis at or Stage Manager Amber Smith at

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