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Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Reading on Jan. 20

Free staged reading of award-winning new play about high school bullying and racial tension

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January 14, 2014 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- In commemoration of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, the Theatre and Interpretation Center (TIC) at Northwestern University and Next Theatre Company will co-present a free Jan. 20 staged dramatic reading of “Mogadishu.”

Written by British playwright and former schoolteacher Vivienne Franzmann, “Mogadishu” dramatizes the story of a white teacher pushed to her limits amid racial tension and false accusations within a tough London secondary school. The award-winning play can be seen as a kind of stress test of multicultural education, with deeply problematic and tragic outcomes.

Directed by Northwestern University's MFA directing candidate Damon Krometis, the reading will be staged at 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20, in the Josephine Louis Theatre, 20 Arts Circle Drive, on the University's Evanston campus. A post-show discussion will feature Jelani Mandara, associate professor of human development and social policy in Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy, and Eric Witherspoon, superintendent of Evanston Township High School District 202.

A family and developmental psychologist, Mandara’s primary research examines the nature and effects of socialization, fathers’ involvement, and how they interact with gender, race and education to impact youths’ academic and social development. He is currently implementing and evaluating a culturally sensitive parent training intervention he developed called B-PROUD. This particular prevention-intervention is focused on mothers of African-American sons and covers topics including general parenting styles, academic socialization, proactive racial socialization and boys' development.

A former high school English teacher, Witherspoon has served as a superintendent for more than 25 years. Prior to becoming the superintendent of Evanston District 202, he served in the same capacity in a Des Moines public school.

“For several years TIC has participated in Northwestern University's annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day by presenting a staged reading of a play with contemporary relevance to Dr. King's fight for racial equality,” said TIC's managing director, Diane Claussen.

“This year we are delighted to partner with Next Theatre Company to bring a story to life that takes a very hard look at issues of bullying and cultural diversity in high school,” Claussen added. “Having Professor Mandara and Dr. Witherspoon partake in the post-performance discussion will bring their passion and experiences to this important community conversation as part of this remarkable annual event.”

Admission is free and open to the public. Reservations are advised and can be made online. The play contains strong language and may not be suitable for patrons under the age of 13.

CONSTRUCTION ALERT

A three-year construction project underway on the southeast end of the Northwestern University campus has closed Arts Circle Drive to traffic. Free parking for evening and weekend events remains available, but the project impacts handicap parking and patrons requiring special access to Evanston campus theaters, as the parking structure is accessible only to patrons able to climb stairs. For the most current information on the construction project and drop-off locations for patrons requiring special access to our theaters, visit www.tic.northwestern.edu/construction.