UPDATE, Thursday, 9:40 AM: The producers behind a play based on grand jury transcripts from Ferguson will offer the premiere staging of the play on YouTube following its performance. The play is a stage reading of those transcripts from the police shooting of Michael Brown and will be performed at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles for four nights starting April 26th.
They have already held a stage reading of excerpts of the testimony in Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington D.C. “Lots of people had written to us saying that they’d like to see it but they couldn’t make it to Los Angeles or were out of the country. We decided to bring it to YouTube because everyone deserves the truth,” producer/writer Phelim McAleer told Deadline.
He said the response they received last night after reading a few excerpts was one of “surprise” from the audience, many of whom thought they knew the full Brown story. The producers are 60% funded for Ferguson to raise a total of $93K to bring the production to Fergusontheplay.com.
PREVIOUSLY, EXCLUSIVE, Mar. 29th, 8:47 AM: A new play based on grand-jury witness testimony from the controversial Michael Brown police shooting in Ferguson, Mo., will be presented for four nights next month in Los Angeles. Presented by Theater Verite Collective at the Odyssey Theatre, Ferguson will be a staged reading – after which, in a crucial twist, the audience will then judge whether Ferguson officer Darren Wilson should have been indicted.
The group plans to take the play on the road and eventually stage it in Ferguson.
It was written by journalist and documentary filmmaker Phelim McAleer and will be directed by Nick DeGruccio (The Laramie Project, which played both Laguna Playhouse and the Colony Theatre).
The shooting death of Brown on Aug. 9, 2014, sparked riots in Ferguson and protests nationwide, prompting marchers to walk with their hands up in surrender to mimic, as some witnesses said, Brown, whose hands were up at the time he was killed. The shooting also fueled an anti-police sentiment in several cities, culminating in the shooting death of two cops in New York who were ambushed in their police car while eating lunch.
Ferguson will be staged as an evening of testimony, modeled on Tricycle Theatre’s popular Tribunal Plays series that has been a staple in London for a couple of decades. The audience will hear unaltered witness testimony, exactly as the Ferguson grand jury heard it.
“There are 5,000 separate documents in the grand jury testimony and there are 20 different perspectives from law enforcement and forensic experts, but a lot of it was from eyewitness testimony and even Brown’s friend,” said McAleer. “There were liars on both sides and everyone I’ve shown the script to were shocked by the details of it that they didn’t know.”
Why did he decide to do a staged reading of the grand jury testimony? “I’m a journalist originally so that is my first love. That is where my heart is covering crime and bringing the truth to life so it is a natural extension of that,” he said. McAleer previously covered the conflict in Northern Ireland for The Irish News and UK’s Sunday Times. He was also a foreign correspondent with the Financial Times and The Economist covering the post-communist chaos in Eastern Europe. He is currently a regular columnist for the New York Post.
McAleer, who is no stranger to controversy, is using Indiegogo to fund Ferguson. He is looking to raise $93,000 for expenses at FergusonThePlay.com which links into Indiegogo. In the past, he has had great successes funding the pro-fracking FrackNation documentary via Kickstarter which became one of the most successful documentary campaigns in the crowdfunder’s history collecting $212,265 in 60 days. McAleer’s Indiegogo campaign for the telefilm Gosnell, about Pennsylvanian abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell who was convicted of murder after delivering babies born alive and then snipping their spinal cords, was the crowdfunding site’s most successful ever, raising $2.25 million in only 45 days.