LA Theatre Work’s In the Heat of the Night
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John Ball’s 1965 novel, In the Heat of the Night, which was adapted into a five time Academy Award-winning film starring Sidney Poitier and a hugely popular television series, tells the story of black police detective Virgil Tibbs passing through the small town in the Carolinas on a hot August night in an America during the 1960s grappling with integration and an evolving acceptance of the Civil Rights Movement. This was the era of sit-ins and tear gas, of marches and assassinations. This was the era of Martin Luther King Jr., the Kennedys, and LBJ and an America finally, deliberately, moving towards a future of equality regardless of skin color.
Now in conjunction with LA Theatre Works, the foremost radio theatre company in the United States, playwright and screenwriter Matt Pelfrey’s riveting stage adaptation of this classic American thriller comes to life in a "live-in-performance" radio drama. The show features a first-rate cast of TV and film actors, complete with live sound effects, and a connection to the audience rarely felt in a traditional dramatic play. Ball’s novel reflected the difficult and personal clashes of the time – the kind of daily encounters that showed ingrained racist attitudes and behaviors. The play demonstrates the slow evolution of attitudes, but leaves the characters, and America, with a long way to go. In the Heat of the Night remains shockingly emblematic of America in the 1960s, and how, almost half a century later, our nation is still conquering the demon of prejudice.
Performing Arts Series