It took place nearly half a century ago but seeing the Hough Riots represented in the Incendiaries play opens fresh wounds. “The details are heartbreakingly similar to what’s going on today,” says Pandora Robertson, creator of the Ohio City Theatre Project and the play. “Look at Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice and Ferguson. What have we really learned in 50 years?”
Incendiaries lays out that question out in the play that’s staged on Public Square as a part of its summerlong Arts & Culture in the Square program. Incendiaries explores how racial conflict turned into six days of rioting, more than 200 fires, 275 arrests and tragic deaths of four people in July 1966 in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood.
Those who are stirred to speak can engage in a theater workshop following the play, which debuted in 2015 and has popped everywhere from Mahall’s 20 Lanes to the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. Participants can engage in creative dialogue through improve and techniques where audience members can stand like a statue and portray thoughts. “The workshop is a way to embody hard conversations about a very provocative topic,” says Robertson. “It’s important that people with diverse opinions have a space to come together.” 50 Public Square, Cleveland, 216-515-8303, clevelandpublicsquare.com