Read below to learn more about our current shows:
What is the effect of racial segregation on society? What kinds of sacrifices do those who dare to confront systemic discrimination make? How can civic engagement help to challenge social injustices? On September 4, 1957, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus ordered the National Guard to prevent nine African American students from enrolling in previously all-white Central High School. Legal experts agreed that Faubus, by using the armed forces of a state to oppose the federal government, had launched the most critical challenge to the Constitution since the Civil War. Once enrolled, the nine students faced daily harassment, but were trained not to react to the barrage of insults and abuse. After months of being tormented one of the students decided to fight back and was expelled from school. Minnijean Brown's act of defiance sets the stage for Theatre Espresso's production of The Nine Who Dared. In role as members of the Little Rock community, students question key players, debate the issues and determine whether the remaining eight students should return to Central High immediately or delay their return until the violence has subsided. For Grades 7 – 12, audience limit: 150 per performance. Book a show!
Supported by Mass Humanities, the Foley Hoag Foundation, the Stride Rite Foundation, and the Cabot Family Charitable Trust.
What responsibility does the government have to citizens and non-citizens during times of war or national emergency? What role does ethnicity or social class play in the administration of justice? Do the constitutional powers of the executive branch supersede those of the judicial branch during wartime? Mitsuye Endo, a young woman being held at the Topaz Internment Camp during W.W. II, declares that her detention by the U.S. government is unconstitutional. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, she takes her case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Citing the government's constitutional right to suspend "the Writ of Habeas Corpus… in cases of Rebellion or Invasion," Solicitor General Fahey defends the existence of the camps. In the role of Supreme Court Justices, students hear testimony, interrogate witnesses, and reflect on crucial questions raised by the case. Finally, students decide whether the internment camps are a matter of national security or a product of racism. For Grades 5 – 12, audience limit: 120 per performance. Book a show!
What are the responsibilities of a military force sent to occupy a foreign land? Is violence ever necessary to keep the peace? What role does class play in the administration of justice? In 1770, the people of Boston suffered under an increasingly harsh British occupation. Just ten days before the massacre, eleven-year-old Christopher Seider was shot by a British soldier during a protest. A week later soldiers clashed with ropewalk workers angry over the loss of jobs to the occupying force. Tensions between soldiers and citizens ran high and further violence seemed inevitable. On March 5, what started as a group of boys taunting the guard quickly escalated into a riot. British soldiers fired into the crowd, killing five of the protesters. The people of Boston demanded justice. John Adams defended both the British soldiers and their commanding officer Captain Preston at trial. Dubbed "the horrid massacre" by Sam Adams, the killings became a precipitating event of the Revolution. Theatre Espresso explores the circumstances that led to this tragedy and recreates the trial of Captain Preston. In role as jurors, students explore the events of the Boston Massacre through the eyes of ordinary men and women who were both shaped by and instrumental in shaping history. For Grades 5 - 12, audience limit: 150 per performance. Book a show!
Supported by Mass Humanities, the Stride Rite Foundation, and the Edith Glick Shoolman Foundation.
What role did political favoritism and economic sanctions play in the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law in pre-Civil War 'free states'? What were the responsibilities of a state judge to uphold a controversial federal law in 1854? Can the legal system ever resolve conflicts between the law 'written in our hearts' and the statutes enacted by our government? Massachusetts was at the center of the abolitionist movement in pre-Civil War America. However, escaping from slavery was illegal, and state judges were obligated by the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 to return runaway slaves to their owners in the South. Theatre Espresso explores the tension between human law and moral principles in a compelling original drama based on the trial of Anthony Burns. Born into slavery in Virginia, Burns escaped to Boston where he lived as a free man until he was captured and placed on trial in 1854. In court, a group of prominent Boston lawyers fiercely defended Burns' right to freedom. Despite their efforts, Judge Edward G. Loring returned Burns to his Southern master. After viewing a dramatization of this critical case, students interview the characters, debate the issues, and render their own judgment on Loring's actions during the trial. This play was commissioned by "Discovering Justice: The James D. St. Clair Court Education Project." For Grades 5 - 12, audience limit: 150 per performance. Book a show!
What role did women and children play in the textile industry at the start of the twentieth century? What were the effects of low wages, long workdays, and hazardous living and working environments on immigrant families? How did workers from a variety of ethnic backgrounds unite to improve working conditions at the Lawrence mills and nationwide? In January of 1912, a Massachusetts labor law reduced the workweek from fifty-six hours to fifty-four hours. Mill owners reduced the salaries of struggling men, women and children who worked and lived under miserable conditions. The pay reduction increased tensions between workers and mill owners, and prompted one of the most effective labor strikes in U.S. history. The strike attracted prominent labor leaders to Lawrence. In an unprecedented show of unity, thousands of immigrant workers speaking 25 different languages joined forces to fight for justice. American Tapestry explores the Bread and Roses Strike from the perspective of children from immigrant families who worked in the mills and were part of these historic events. Students will play the roles of members of the Congressional committee that convened in March 1912 to investigate conditions in Lawrence. They hear testimony from child strikers--such as Camella Teoli, who at age 13 suffered a head injury when her hair was caught in a gearshift--from business owners, police officers, a mill paymaster and nurse Margaret Sanger. Students observe key moments of these dramatic events, question witnesses, sift through conflicting testimony, debate their views, and offer recommendations on how to end the strike and improve conditions for working families. This play supports the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks in the areas of local history of cities and towns, civics and government, immigration, business and commerce, and women’s rights. For Grades 3 - 6, audience limit: 150 per performance.Book a show!