Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Play Looks at Emotions Following Sensational Trial

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Play Looks at Emotions Following Sensational Trial

Article excerpt

Byline: CASSIDY SHAW

The south-central Los Angeles riots that broke out after police officers were acquitted in the beating of Rodney King represented a violent time of despair for the country.

But Joe Schwarz, director of Players by the Sea's upcoming performances of "Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992," an emotional and award-winning play about the event, is striving for a sense of optimism from the audiences.

"I would like people to walk away [from the play] with hope," said Schwarz. "Although the moment was a horrible time in our lives, I would like to think we have learned from it. These things change us for the better - I hope."

The Beaches community theater will perform the play for two nights only, at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

"This is not my America." That's the sentiment Schwarz and others remember experiencing while witnessing the rage following the verdict of the 1992-93 trial. Despite a well-circulated video that shows a circle of officers beating and kicking an African-American man on the ground, the all-white jury found there was insufficient evidence to convict.

"Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992" was originally performed as a one-woman show by playwright and actress Anna Devere Smith. Players by the Sea has chosen to recreate it with several actors. The play is powerful, riveting and engaging.

The script includes the monologues of 40 individuals derived from about 400 interviews about the controversy.

Assistant directors Steven Anderson and Barbara Colaciello team up with Schwarz in leading the Jacksonville-based actors' reflections of a pivotal time in U.S. history, exploring issues of race, violence and power. Each actor is challenged to play up to five different characters of various ages, sex and race.

The monologues include interviews with south-central L.A. gang members, ex-gang members, jurors, newscasters, celebrities and political figures. …

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