by Adam P Kennedy and Adrienne Kennedy
Directed by Nicole Watson
In Arlington, Virginia during the 1990s, Adam P Kennedy, playwright Adrienne Kennedy’s son, was viciously beaten by police after being pulled over for a broken taillight. That disturbing incident led them, mother and child, to collaborate on this powerful, autobiographical drama. Sleep Deprivation Chamber reads now like a premonition of today’s pervasive climate of police violence, masterfully interweaving a suspenseful docudrama with the black experience of 20th-century America.
Sleep Deprivation Chamber was originally directed by Michael Kahn in 1996 for Signature Theatre in New York. A sequel of sorts to Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro (also directed by Michael Kahn, and one of the founding texts of the Off-Broadway movement), Kennedy’s play allows us to measure how far we’ve come and how much has remained the same.
The ReDiscovery Series introduces audiences to new adaptations and great but lesser-known classic plays under consideration for STC’s mainstage seasons. Written by notable playwrights and performed by some of D.C.’s most talented actors, these one-night-only readings are often the first step in bringing a new adaptation or an under-produced classic back into the spotlight worldwide. Every ReDiscovery reading concludes with a post-show panel featuring artists, scholars and esteemed community members.