WCLOC is bringing back live,
by Eleanor Burgess
This June 18-20, WCLOC will be producing Eleanor Burgess' The Niceties in partnership with the Worcester Black History Project and the Worcester Historical Museum.
Audiences will be of limited capacity (as set by the government) and socially distanced with masks required for audience, staff, and crew.
Ideal precautions will be taken for audience members including: contact tracing, professional cleaning in between performances, and use of an exemplary HVAC system (CDC-compliant MERV 13 filters) at the Jean McDonough Arts Center's BrickBox, Worcester's newest theater space.
For those who are unable to attend in person, The Niceties will be available to stream at home, during the weekend of production, with the purchase of an online ticket.
There will be a special talkback following the performance of Friday, June 18 with The Niceties' cast and production team moderated by Worcester Black History Project Steering Committee member Xaulanda Thorpe.
Four in-person audience performances only!
June 18-19 at 8:00 pm, June 19-20 at 2:00 pm
Performed at Worcester's BrickBox Theater, 20 Franklin Street, Worcester, MA
Purchase tickets for our live or streaming audience:
About The Niceties
At an elite East Coast university, an ambitious young black student and her esteemed white professor meet to discuss a paper the college junior is writing about the American Revolution. They’re both liberal. They’re both women. They’re both brilliant. But very quickly, discussions of grammar and Google turn to race and reputation, and before they know it, they’re in dangerous territory neither of them had foreseen – and facing stunning implications that can’t be undone.
Written with powerful truth and humor by Eleanor Burgess. The Washington Post hailed this deeply resonant work as “a barnburner of a play,” adding that it’s “one of the best plays I’ve seen about who gets to tell the story of America, and how.”
The Niceties features Martha Hultgren and Elizabeth Hylton. Directed by Eric Butler, stage managed by Alexis Prosser, and produced by Chuck Grigaitis and Christine Seger. With designs by Ed Savage (sets), Emily McCourt (lighting), Tom Powers (sound), and Jo Ann Savage (costumes).
This production is supported by the Worcester Arts Council and Massachusetts Cultural Council.
The Niceties Related Programming
Black Faces in White Spaces: Relating Black Experiences at Predominantly White Institutions
Thursday, June 17 @ 7:00 pm
Every spring, a particular type of video tends to go viral. These videos feature anxious students of color waiting to receive online acceptance letters from their first-choice schools. That moment of quiet nervousness turns to all-out joy as students are welcomed into prestigious (and often, predominately white) schools across the world. Four years later, how does the reality of that experience compare to that moment of joy?
Join us on Thursday, June 17 at 7:00 PM for an engaging, reflective panel where Black students and professors share their experiences at Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) of higher education. The panel will include Shanez’e Johnson (former Worcester student and current resident, Wellesley College graduate), Dr. Nicole Overstreet (Clark University), Xaulanda Thorpe (Worcester resident, Boston University graduate), and Professor Maria Hylton (Boston University). We invite you to share your own experience or questions with our panelists below.
Discovering Black Roots in Worcester
This free exhibition will be available to view in the lobby of the BrickBox before and after performances of The Niceties.
Discovering Black Roots in Worcester reflects the collaborative partnership between the Worcester Black History Project and Worcester Historical Museum.
The Worcester Black History Project was founded in 2018 by Deborah Hall. Her interest in African American history began at an early age when she read Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. It made her wonder why Black people were subjected to the horrors of slavery. As she continued to read and study on her own and in classrooms, she learned that blacks have made great contributions to this nation. “Learning about the history of black people in America
made me feel a sense of pride and gave me confidence,” she explained. “It is my hope that the WBHP will help. tell the stories of Black residents of Worcester who have contributed to the city’s rich history.”
The goal of the Worcester Black History Project is to work with the community—individuals, businesses, and organizations—to preserve the history of black Americans through the collection of photographs, documents, objects, and oral histories. Additionally, the WBHP wants to contribute to a more inclusive and complete history of the city. Through scholarship and educational programming, “WBHP hopes to educate future generations about the contributions of Black people in Worcester with the hope that they can draw encouragement and direction from the past.”
If you are interested in learning more or contributing to this important work, please visit The Worcester Black History Project's website.
"We are excited to partner with WCLOC Theater Company and Worcester Historical Museum to present The Niceties. This play delves into urgent and relevant issues of race, gender, class, and power in ways that will feel quite familiar for those of us who have lived or studied in New England. This powerful work aligns with the Worcester Black History Project's mission to recognize and celebrate the experiences of Black people through education and programming and we look forward to sharing this experience with the Worcester community. "
~ Cecilia Hylton, Worcester Black History Project Steering Committee
"As we at Worcester Historical Museum continue our work accepting the Mayor and City Manager's 2020 challenge to pursue "the notion that all people are created equal," we find our collaboration with the Worcester Black History project one of utmost importance as we work alongside our community partners in today's call of a national reckoning of Black American history and address the history of Worcester's Black community–past, present and future. Our participation in The Niceties along with WCLOC reminds us that local Black history is continuous, happening from almost 300 years ago at the inception of Worcester's founding, the establishing of Worcester's first Black churches, 2020's response to the daily injustices of racism plaguing our society, to what will happen tomorrow and beyond. There is much work to do in the continual collecting, preserving, and sharing of Worcester's Black history with the greater Worcester community."
~ David Conner, Worcester Historical Museum Community Engagement Director