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The Great Recession of 2008 Hits Detroit Autoworkers Hard in Dominique Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew at PlayMakers Rep Oct. 10-28

PlayMakers Rep will stage Dominique Morisseau's <em>Skeleton Crew</em>, under the direction of Valerie Curtis-Newton, on Oct. 10-12, 14, 16-21, and 23-28 in the Paul Green Theatre at UNC-Chapel Hill

PlayMakers Rep will stage Dominique Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew, under the direction of Valerie Curtis-Newton, on Oct. 10-12, 14, 16-21, and 23-28 in the Paul Green Theatre at UNC-Chapel Hill

PlayMakers Repertory Company will present Detroit, MI-born actress, playwright, screenwriter, and poet Dominique Morisseau’s powerful 2016 Off-Broadway play Skeleton Crew, on Oct. 10-12, 14, 16-21, and 23-28 in the Paul Green Theatre in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art. Seattle, WA director and head of Performance – Directing at the University of Washington School of Drama Valerie Curtis-Newton will make her directorial debut at UNC’s professional-theater-in residence, directing this incendiary third and final the dramatic installment of Morisseau’s 2013-16 trilogy, The Detroit Projects, which also includes Detroit ’67 (2013) and Paradise Blue (2015).

According to PlayMakers Rep’s Sept. 24th news release:

Skeleton Crew transports us to the start of the Great Recession in 2008, where one of the last auto stamping plants in Detroit is in trouble. What will this mean for its blue-collar workforce? The plant’s line workers have become family, but alliances and power dynamics shift as each of them must make difficult decisions when they see the writing on the wall. What choices are you willing to make to take care of you and yours, to take care of your co-workers, to survive?

“‘Dominique Morisseau is a master at writing about sweeping, universal issues — but in a way that makes them feel beautifully, tragically, and singularly human,’ said PlayMakers Rep producing artistic director Vivienne Benesch. ‘Skeleton Crew is very much a play of our time, in its exploration of how far each of us will go to protect our little piece of the pie. In the hands of the extraordinary Valerie Curtis-Newton, the play becomes a quiet but profound conversation-starter about what it means to be a “worker” in America today, and to feel that ‘progress’ is leaving behind an entire segment of the population.’

“‘As an artist and citizen, I believe so strongly in the power of theater to put us in relationship with one another, and allow us to explore what brings us together as a community as well as what breaks us apart,’ said Curtis-Newton. ‘There are so many facets to the relationships in this play — family, co-workers, friends, adversaries — that give it resonance far beyond our present moment. Working with the incredible company at PlayMakers made it easy to feel safe enough to explore how we can be all those things to each other, sometimes at the same time, and yet still come out the other side.’

Skeleton Crew features Kathryn Hunter-Williams (Tartuffe, Count) as Faye; Samuel Ray Gates (Dot, Leaving Eden) as Reg; Alex Givens (The Christians Sense and Sensibility) as Dez; and Shanelle Nicole Leonard (Tartuffe Intimate Apparel) as Shanita.

“The creative team of Skeleton Crew includes: Valerie Curtis-Newton (director [and] founding artistic director of The Hansberry Project); [Tracey Bersley (choreographer: Cabaret, Sense and Sensibility);] Jan Chambers (scenic designer: The Cake, A Christmas Carol); Junghyun Georgia Lee (costume designer: The Cake, Intimate Apparel); Porsche McGovern (lighting designer: Twelfth Night, We Are Proud to Present…); Gabriel Clausen (sound designer: PlayMakers debut); Dominic Abbenante (video designer: Temples of Lung and Air, The Christians); [Tia James (vocal coach: Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood)]; Adam N Versényi (dramaturg [and] chair, UNC-Chapel Hill Department of Dramatic Art); and Elizabeth Ray (stage manager: The Cake, Sense and Sensibility).

“[CONTENT ADVISORY:] Skeleton Crew is recommended for ages 16 and up.”

In his New York Times review of Skeleton Crew’s 2016 Off-Broadway debut, which he made an NYT Critic’s Pick, Ben Brantley wrote, “Skeleton Crew is about what happens to people for whom survival becomes the foremost (if not the only) goal in life…. Clifford Odets’s dramas of an oppressed and restless working class come to mind. So inevitably does the great Pittsburgh cycle of August Wilson…. But Skeleton Crew is also squarely in the tradition of Arthur Miller’s probing studies of consciences under siege and the crippling concessions made in the name of success. It is, in other words, a deeply moral and deeply American play, with a loving compassion for those trapped in a system that makes sins, spiritual or societal, and self-betrayal almost inevitable.”

PlayMakers Repertory Company presents SKELETON CREW at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10 and 11 Previews, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12 Opening Night, 2 p.m. Oct. 14, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16-19, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 20, 2 p.m. Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23-27, and 2 p.m. Oct. 28 in the Paul Green Theatre in the Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art, 150 Country Club Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514, on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.

TICKETS: $15-$48 ($10 UNC students and $12 other college students), with discounts for UNC faculty and staff and U.S. military personnel, except $15 general admission ($10 for UNC students with ID) on Community Night (Tuesday, Oct. 16th).

BOX OFFICE: 919-962-PLAY,, or

GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919-962-PLAY (7529),, or

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2018-19 SEASON (Shifting Ground: Theatre That Moves):

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NOTE 1: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive-listening devices will be available at all performances.

NOTE 2: The show will preview at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 10th, and Thursday, Oct. 11th.

NOTE 3: At 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11th, The Vision Series — Directors in Conversation will offer a FREE behind-the-scenes preview of the show at the Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art.

NOTE 4: There will be a gala opening-night performance, starting at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12th.

NOTE 5: There will be an All-Access Performance, with sign-language interpretation and audio description by Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh, at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16th.

NOTE 6: There will be FREE post-show discussions, with members of the cast and creative team, following the show’s 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17th, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21st, performances.

NOTE 7: There will be an Open Captioning Performance at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20th (for more information, click here).


Skeleton Crew (2016 Off-Broadway play): (Samuel French, Inc.), (Internet Off-Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

Study Guides: (Actors Theatre of Louisville) and (Atlantic Theater Company of New York City).

Dominique Morisseau (Detroit, MI-born actress, playwright, screenwriter, and poet): (official website), (PlayMakers Rep bio), (Internet Off-Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (Wikipedia).

Valerie Curtis-Newton (Seattle, WA director and head of Performance – Directing at the University of Washington School of Drama): (official website), (PlayMakers Rep bio), (Internet Movie Database), (Facebook page), and (Twitter page).


Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)

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