by Adam P Kennedy and Adrienne Kennedy
Directed by Nicole A. Watson
In Arlington, Virginia during the 1990s, a highly educated black man was viciously beaten by police after being pulled over for a broken taillight, and the disturbing incident led Adrienne Kennedy and her son to collaborate on an autobiographical drama. The OBIE Award-winning play for Best New American Play, Sleep Deprivation Chamber reads now like a premonition of today’s pervasive climate of 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.