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West Virginia Public Theatre’s first episode of ‘Radio Theatre for Our Time’ to air Monday

martin luther king jr

Using an old and new idea, West Virginia Public Theatre created “Radio Theatre for Our Time,” a dramatization of non-dramatic text drawn from letters and speeches that have relevance in our current social conditions. The first episode Letter From A Birmingham Jail is available to stream on WV Public Theatre’s website throughout the state on Nov. 23 at 8 p.m.

Each installment will feature the dramatization and performance of a typically non-dramatic text (letters, speeches or other written or published materials) and a panel discussion.

To create this program, Jerry McGonigle, artistic director at WVPT and professor in the WVU College of Creative Arts, teamed up with long-time friend and colleague, Harry Waters Jr., a professor in the Theatre Department of Macalester College and associate dean for the Kofi Annan Institute for Global Citizenship. 

Waters Jr., who served as a link between the writers and developers, will host the first episode, a dramatized reading of “Letter From A Birmingham Jail” written by Martin Luther King Jr. during a 1963 incarceration in a Birmingham city jail. The script was conceived and adapted by Mya Brown, assistant professor of theatre at UNC Greensboro, who also directed the ensemble of actors.

The first panel is comprised of Omi Artesia Green, an associate professor of theatre and africana studies and faculty fellow at William and Mary; Danielle Walker, a newly re-elected Democrat representing Monongalia County in the West Virginia House of Delegates; and Henri Jac Houston, the former vice president of marketing operations for HBO’s programming sales division.

“It is our hope that these examinations of ‘voices for our time’ will be engaging, entertaining and most importantly thought provoking,” McGonigle said.