Pittsburgh, PA, December 6, 2011 – Over the past year and a half, acclaimed playwright Attilio Favorini has been conducting interviews and gathering information related to the 1995 death of Jonny Gammage, cousin of former Pittsburgh Steeler Ray Seals.

The Bare Facts: On October 12, 1995 Gammage was killed during a routine traffic stop. A coroner’s jury unanimously concluded that the police officers involved in the incident should be arrested and charged with homicide, but none were ever convicted.

The bare facts, as troubling as they may be, fail to capture the often unaddressed problems of race relations in the Pittsburgh region.  The Gammage case symbolizes the repressed tensions present in a string of troubling events, from the 1997 KKK rally on the City-County Building steps to the very recent incident involving the brutal beating of an African American Creative and Performing Arts High School student.

The Gammage Project: In response, Favorini has joined with Mark Clayton Southers — founder and Artistic Director of Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company — to create The Gammage Project, a brand new docu-drama that explores the Gammage case and exposes the nodes of racial tensions throughout the region.

“Our hope is that The Gammage Project will bring to light the suppressed facts and feelings that continue to affect race relations today,” Favorini said.  “No less important, we look to position our play in the millennia-old tradition of deploying drama to address issues of civic consequence.  We want to create a play that invites all to think deeply and to feel honestly.”

Beyond the Theatre: In addition to performances at both the University of Pittsburgh campus and August Wilson Center, The Gammage Project will be accompanied by a variety of talkbacks, discussion panels, and  opportunities for the communities involved to air grievances, express feelings, and promote understanding.

Several of Favorini’s previous plays have addressed local personages, history, and issues, and Southers’ “Culture Clash” Cycle, including Hoodwinked, I Nipoti, and James McBride directly engages the stereotypes, tensions, and opportunities for communication associated with race relations in America.

The Gammage Project, opens on February 9 in the Henry Heymann Theatre in Oakland. It will run through February 19 before moving to the August Wilson Center on March 2 and 3.  This production is a first-of-its-kind collaborative effort between the University of Pittsburgh Repertory Theatre and Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company.

For more information, photos, or to speak with Favorini or Clayton Southers, please contact Josh Storey at 412-624-0933 or jstorey@pitt.edu.


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