The Purdue Theatre Company at Purdue Calumet is bringing a piece of unknown American history to the stage with the world premiere of Dreamland Burning, a play with music about the worst race riot in America’s history.
The performance, which focuses on the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, opens Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. on campus in YJean Chambers Hall on the third floor of the Student Union & Library. Following that performance, the audience will have an opportunity to engage in discussion with John Lisbon Wood and Tevin Thomas, author and songwriter for the show, respectively.
Subsequent campus performances are scheduled Nov. 20 and 27 at 3 p.m. and Nov. 26 and Dec. 2 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $5 for Purdue Calumet students with their identification card and children ages 7-12.
“Dreamland Burning is a historically accurate drama developed for the stage depicting in detail one of the most immoral, violent, bloody, and destructive racial confrontations in American history,” Wood said. “Because it transpired almost a hundred years ago in 1921 in the oil town of Tulsa, only a select few people, both black and white, are aware of this tragedy.”
Wood has accumulated an extensive list of acting credentials in both television and film. He has recently been working with the South Shore Centre for the Arts in Gary teaching a class along with Corya Kennedy Channing, director of the Purdue Theatre Company at Purdue Calumet. The songs featured in this play were written by Academy Award nominee Tevin Thomas, who wrote the song, “Raise It Up,” from the movie August Rush.
“This is a serious play with music that tells the story about the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot,” Channing said. “It’s a good idea to visit the past to make sure it doesn’t happen again. It’s a good history lesson with an upbeat message.”
In addition to the stage performances, the Purdue Theatre Company at Purdue Calumet and the university’s Multicultural Campus Council will host two additional free events that will lead up to the premiere performance of Dreamland Burning.
A historian from Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa OK, Mechelle Brown, will discuss the history of this event as part of a panel discussion titled “Never Again, or Could it Happen Again? Creating Racial Harmony in Economically Troubled Times.” The discussion will take place at 3 p.m., Nov. 16.
Tevin Thomas, Academy Award-nominated songwriter from New York City who wrote the music for the show, will be on campus Nov. 18 and will speak at 10 a.m. about his creative process. Both sessions will take place in YJean Chambers Hall.
The Student Union & Library is near the south end of the Purdue Calumet campus, located one-third mile north of Interstate 80/94, three blocks east of Indianapolis Boulevard off 173rd Street.
More information about the play and the other two events can be obtained by phoning 219/989-2357 or 800/HI-PURDUE, ext. 2357, or emailing Director Channing at firstname.lastname@example.org.