The Green Duck Lounge continues the conversation of race in Missouri
COLUMBIA- On Sunday, MU Theatre closed out the world premiere of The Green Duck Lounge, a play that explores race relations in Missouri across several different eras.
Much of the inspiration for the play came from the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, as well as the 2015 protests on MU's campus itself.
"I look at Missouri as being a microcosm of the rest of the country when it comes to race," said Michelle Tyrene Johnson, The Green Duck Lounge's playwright.
The Green Duck Lounge follows several stories in Missouri's civil rights history. On one end, it chronicles the life and unsolved death of the lounge's owner, Leon Jordan, a Kansas City police officer and Missouri legislator from the 1960s. On the other end, it explores the death of the lounge's owner in 2015.
"These themes of fighting for equality, getting people on the same page about how to deal with that fight. Those aren't modern themes, and Missouri, unfortunately, in little and big ways, seems to keep reminding us of that," Johnson said.
In her play, Johnson wanted to focus on intergenerational conversations and issues, such as "issues involving the black community and the police."
"These aren't new issues, these aren't resolved issues from the past that people are making up today, they're the same issues that just have different voices attached to them."
The Green Duck Lounge is a double-cast show, meaning one actor plays a key character in each of the two main scenes. Johnson took this direction to further link her two scenarios and draw connections between race relations in 1970 and 2015.
Each showing of the play ended with a 30 minute Talk Back discussion with Johnson, the actors, and other people involved with the production in an effort to continue the intergenerational conversation on race.