No Safety Net talk to examine social justice and theater


Poet and playwright Claudia Rankine and dramaturg and producer P. Carl will discuss the relationship between theater and social justice, as well as how theater-making is an act of citizenship, as part of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium.

Claudia Rankine

P. Carl

Sponsored by the University Musical Society and the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, the discussion will serve as a keynote event for No Safety Net, a three-week theater festival that will explore and engage audiences in pressing contemporary social issues, said Shannon Fitzsimons Moen, UMS campus engagement specialist.

The discussion between Rankine and Carl, which also is part of the Penny Stamps Speaker Series, will begin at 5:10 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Michigan Theater.

Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry including “Citizen: An American Lyric,” two plays and numerous video collaborations.

She is the editor of several anthologies, and has received numerous awards, including the PEN Literary Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize. She is the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University.

Carl is a Distinguished Artist in Residence at Emerson College in Boston. He is a writer and lecturer on theater, gender, inclusive practices and innovative models for building community and organizations.

He is the co-founder of HowlRound, a free and open platform for theater makers, and previously served as the co-artistic director of ArtsEmerson at Emerson College. He was recently given a Ford Foundation Art of Change fellowship.

“I would hope they come out of (the keynote) feeling invigorated to see the way that their own participation in the arts, whether that’s as an audience member or as a creator, is an act of citizenship and of activism, and to perhaps have a more complete or dimensional understanding of the ways that theater practice is impacted by and implicated by issues of race and gender and sexuality, among other identity issues,” Fitzsimons Moen said.

For more information on the No Safety Net festival, go to


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