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Homelands: Detroit’s Crises and Hope

Award Winning Play Explores City’s riots, strikes, and struggles

The once bustling showcase of Michigan Central Train Depot is the point of departure for a wild ride through Detroit’s tumultuous history when two Latino teens encounter the rotting building’s resident historian in a play entitled: “Homelands: Michigan Central,” which is an original Matrix Theatre Company production that moves from the halcyon days of the 1920s right up to the options for today’s youth.


“Homelands” was originally produced in 2002. In 2004 it was awarded the first Imagining Michigan award and a social service award from the Ginsburg Center in Ann Arbor.

“The depot served as Detroit’s Ellis Island, a point of entry for people all over the world,” said Shaun Nethercott, Matrix Theatre Company executive director and co-founder. “As such, it is also a prism through which Detroit can be seen. It’s the place that helped Detroit become a homeland for countless immigrants.”

Antonio, a gang-banger and graffiti artist and Munce, his clear-eyed, ambitious girlfriend spar over the directions their lives should take as Antonio works on his “masterpiece” on the 15th floor of the abandoned train station. Then they encounter George and a minor turf battle ensues before he shows them all he’s seen while working at the station.

Through George, the teens encounter the likes of Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera as he creates the Detroit Institute of the Arts’ world renowned mural. Labor conflicts and Detroit’s 1967 civil disturbance, still the deadliest on record, also come to life. At one point the teens encounter the legendary activist priest, Father Clement Kern in an episode that becomes quite personal for Munce as she sees one of her relatives flee Detroit in fear, leaving a family behind. The very pertinent question of whether or not to flee Detroit is one the teens in the play grapple with throughout the play. They must decide where their “homelands” will be.

The Matrix Theatre Company is a nationally recognized theatre company, founded in 1991; it has created over 70 productions and new scripts. The play runs Thursdays through Sundays, March 9 to April 2 at Matrix Theatre Company 2730 Bagley Street. For ticket information, call 313-967-0999.

“This play is a part of Matrix’s fifteenth anniversary year celebration,” said Nethercott. “That’s fifteen years in Detroit. This is our homeland and this play is our way of taking stock of where we are.”





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