PHILADELPHIA -- Theatre in the X is bringing a powerful performance to the streets with Zooman and the Sign.
"We always try to choose a show that is relevant to the community and time that we're in and we thought this was a great one for right now, when there is so much conversation around community violence," says LaNeshe Miller-White, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Theatre in the X.
The play by Charles Fuller will be performed at Malcolm X Park and directed by Ozzie Jones.
"I grew up around here and the play should make everyone that sees it ask the question - 'What actually is supposed to happen when violence kills our children?'" says Jones.
The show starts with a family being fractured.
"A little girl is killed by a teenage boy named Zooman," says Miller-White.
Miller-White is also in the production as Rachel, the grieving mother.
"Her family is expecting the community to come forward," she says.
However, that doesn't happen, even though many people were outside when the shooting occurred in the neighborhood.
The victim's father, Reuben, posts a sign calling them cowards for their silence.
"The neighborhood actually gets upset at him for making them look bad with the sign," says Miller-White.
The sign creates a rift within the community and between the parents of the victim.
She says Rachel wants to focus on the loss of her daughter, but the sign has created a distraction and the retaliation of the neighborhood is affecting her.
The play also gives voice to the shooter.
Jones says it's important for audiences to remember that Zooman is only about 15, so he's a kid too.
"You're just seeing Zooman's situation play out and who he becomes, versus who our son is being in a stable home and family," says Miller-White.
She says they hope the outdoor performance for the community will open up a discussion, since the play very specifically asks, "what is the community's role when it comes to preventing community violence?"
Theatre in the X will perform Zooman and the Sign August 17-20 at Malcolm X Park. There will be a post-show community discussion following each performance.
Zooman and the Sign Show Schedule -- Tickets are free, BYOC (Bring Your Own Chair)
Thurs., August 17 & Fri., August 18 at 7pm -- talk-backs led by Philly Truce
Sat., August 19 & Sun., August 20 at 5pm -- talk-backs led by UrbnSEEK and Forget Me Knot Children and Youth Services
5100 Pine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19143
Holy Apostles & the Mediator Episcopal Church(260 S. 51st Street, Philadelphia, PA 19139)
1628-30 North 15th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19121