‘Blood at the Root’ premieres Thursday


Katja Benz, Campus Reporter

Eastern’s Theatre Department is putting on a play titled “Blood at the Root.”

The shows will take place from Thursday through Sunday.

The Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows start at 7:30 p.m. and the Sunday show begins at 2:00 p.m.

All shows are performed in the Doudna Fine Arts Center’s Theatre.

“Blood at the Root” is a play based on events that took place in Jena, La., and was written by playwright Dominique Morisseau.

While the play was written in 2017, the events of the play occurred in 2006.

The Doudna Website describes the play as “a striking new ensemble drama based on the Jena Six; six Black students who were initially charged with attempted murder for a school fight after being provoked with nooses hanging from a tree on campus. This bold new play by Dominique Morisseau (Sunset Baby, Detroit ‘67, Skeleton Crew) examines the miscarriage of justice, racial double standards and the crises in relations between men and women of all classes and, as a result, the shattering state of Black family life.”

“Blood at the Root” is set at the fictional Cedar High School.

The play centers around a Black student who disrupts the status quo at her high school by occupying a space typically reserved for white students, sitting under the old oak tree that only white students regularly gathered under.

This moment in the play caused the community to erupt in hate speech, violence and chaos.

During the play, each character explores his or her proximity to the situation, with the play exploring issues of racism, privilege and the judicial system.

The director for the play, Janai Lashon, is a guest director.

According to the Theatre Department website, “She’s excited to continue her directorial journey here at EIU with ‘Blood at the Root’ by Dominique Morisseau. Janai feels connected to this story especially since she had the honor of doing the dramaturgy at Ohio University Fall 2020 production under the direction of Tiffany Nichole Greene. Let’s play and seriously tell an authentic story that leads us to re-examine the threads of American History.”

The performances are open to the public.

Tickets for the public are $15, seniors and EIU employees $13 and students $5. Tickets can be purchased at the Doudna Fine Arts Center box office and online.

Katja Benz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].