Welcome to our 2023-24 theatre season as we explore the theme of EMPOWERMENT through the lens of a broad range of periods, genres and styles.

"Sleep Deprivation Chamber"
by Adam P. Kennedy and Adrienne Kennedy
Nov. 7-11, 2023
A surreal docudrama
Directed by David R. Gammons
$15 general / $12 senior & student (Please note that all seats are general admission)

Read: 'Sleep Deprivation Chamber' blends dreams and reality, time and space

Adrienne Kennedy is one of the most important American playwrights of the last 60 years, and her landmark "Funnyhouse of a Negro" (1964) remains a provocative and unforgettable indictment of the trauma inflicted by colonialism and white supremacy in America.  In 1991, Kennedy’s son Adam was brutally beaten by the police and then arrested for assaulting the officer in suburban Virginia, after being pulled over in a routine traffic stop for a broken taillight. "Sleep Deprivation Chamber" fictionalizes those events — combining reenactments of the encounter, courtroom and interrogation transcripts, and letters beseeching Virginia’s Governor and others to intervene on their behalf.

But the play is far from a simple documentary theatre project; instead, it incorporates the elder playwright’s unique oneiric surrealism – sliding between nightmare sequences, fragmented memory, and overlapping consciousness. One of the play’s conceptual framing devices is a cast of college actors who are rehearsing a production of "Hamlet" under the direction of the central character, Teddy.

As in several of her plays, Adrienne Kennedy uses a surrogate for herself named Suzanne Alexander — a writer and academic, and here, specifically, a devastated and grieving mother who bravely takes on a corrupt and racist system.  A powerful and timely drama that explores violence, truth, and the struggle for justice, "Sleep Deprivation Chamber" is a hauntingly relevant x-ray of our fractured society.

"The Intersection of Art and Reality Panel Discussion"
Join us for a pre-show reception and panel discussion around the issues and contexts found in “Sleep Deprivation Chamber” by Adam P. Kennedy and Adrienne Kennedy. Moderated by Wornie Reed and featuring David R. Gammons, Logan Dandridge, and Onwubiko Agozino. Wednesday, Nov. 8, Newman Library, first floor, room 101S. Free admission; no reservation required. Reception to begin at 5:30 p.m., and panel discussion to begin at 6 p.m. Presented in collaboration with the Office of Diversity & Inclusion and the Department of Sociology.