The play “American Son” to open up conversations on race, identity and bias in America

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Luke Smith, Michael Hayden and Andre Ware. Photo by Scott Barrow.

Utilizing the world premiere play American Son as a springboard to further dialogue about race, identity and bias in America, Barrington Stage has invited members of the Pittsfield and Berkshire community as speakers, moderators and panelists regarding these timely and important issues. The free weekend symposium will take place on July 2 and 3, 2016 on the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage under the title of Race, Bias and Culture in Present-Day America. The panels and their participants were announced by Artistic Director Julianne Boyd and Managing Director Tristan Wilson.

Winner of the prestigious Laurents/Hatcher Award for Best New Play of 2016, American Son stars Tamara Tunie (“Law & Order: SVU”), Michael Hayden, Luke Smith, and Andre Ware. Written by award-winning playwright Christopher Demos-Brown and directed by Julianne Boyd, American Son begins previews June 17, 2016, opens June 22, and runs through July 9, 2016.

This explosive new drama examines our nation’s racial divide through the eyes of an estranged, interracial couple. Over the course of one evening, the couple’s disparate backgrounds collide as they confront an unexpected crisis involving their son, the police and an abandoned car.

Saturday, July 2, from 1:00—2:30pm
“The Struggle of Growing Up Biracial— Caught In the Middle”

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Ferentz Lafargue, Director, The Davis Center at Williams College, Williamstown, MA.

Moderated by: Chief Michael J. Wynn, Pittsfield Police Department.

Panelists: Dr. Barbara Baker, Director of Project Link at BCC,
Byonte Jones, 9th Grade Student, BART Charter School,
Eddie Taylor, Executive Director, S.E.E.D. Network, Inc.

Saturday, July 2, from 3:00—4:30pm
“Driving While Black (DWB)”

Keynote Speaker: Chief Michael J. Wynn, Pittsfield Police Department.

Moderated by: Dennis Powell, President, NAACP, Berkshire County Branch, Pittsfield, MA.

Panelists: Jerome Edgerton, Musical Director, Youth Alive and Motivational Speaker for Young Men, Pittsfield, MA.
Jermaine Sistrunk, Assistant Basketball Coach and Youth Counselor, Taconic High School, Pittsfield, MA.

Sunday, July 3, from 2:00—3:30pm
“Institutional Racism: Academic, Political & Legal”

Keynote Speaker: Andrea Hairston, Professor of Theatre and Africana Studies, Smith College, Northampton, MA.

Moderated by: Jason McCandless, Superintendent of Pittsfield Public Schools.

Panelists: Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier, 3rd Berkshire District,
Shirley Edgerton, Cultural Proficiency Advisor, Pittsfield Public Schools.

Race, Bias and Culture in Present-day America is sponsored in part by The Berkshire Eagle Newspapers in Education and Mass Humanities.

While the weekend symposium is free, reservations are suggested by calling the Barrington Stage Box Office 413-236-8888.

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