22-year-old Brooklyn Playwright Gives Voice to Trayvon Martin in New Play

By Janet Upadhye on February 5, 2013 5:17pm 

FORT GREENE — Just days after what would have been Trayvon Martin's 18th birthday, JACK theater opens its inaugural season with a play about the Florida teen's tragic shooting.

"Outcry," written by 22-year-old Brooklyn playwright Thais Francis, intertwines the lives of Martin, Emmett Till, Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell — all of who were killed in racially tinged violence — and asks the question, "What happens when you scream, but no matter how much or how loud, no one hears you?"

Francis, originally from Trinidad and Tobago, said she felt compelled to write the play immediately after Martin, whose birthday was Feb. 5, was shot.

"I needed to understand why he was killed," she said. "Writing was my way of asking and exploring the answers."

Her play puts Martin, Till, Diallo and Bell in conversation with one another in an imaginative exploration of their lives and deaths. "It's a surreal, hallucinatory dreamscape of a play,” said theater director Alec Duffy. “Thais’ approach is adventuress and extremely striking.”

Duffy added that people in Brooklyn are dealing with racial profiling every day, making the play powerfully relevant to the times.

And Francis is humbled by being able to produce her play in her home borough and pleased to keep the memory of Martin alive.

"I will not allow his memory to die," she said.

'Outcry' opens February 9 at 8 p.m. and runs through Feb. 17. JACK theater is located at 505 1/2 Waverly Ave. in Fort Greene. For more information visit JACK's website.

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