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Great audiences are engaged

As a not-for-profit organization, Wharton Center believes in lifelong learning and engagement between the audience and the artist. To support that interaction, we are proud to introduce to you our Engagement Initiatives.


Illuminating Conversations

“Everyone has their own ways of expression. I believe we all have a lot to say, but finding ways to say it is more than half the battle.” —Criss Jami, writer

Wharton Center is proud to present the plays Detroit ‘67 and Cross That River this season as part of the Illuminate Series. As a new initiative, we invite ticket holders to an extended conversation with members of the cast and creative team, as well as other guests, the day after these performances. The focus will be a community conversation and reflection on race and Black history in America through the lens of live theatre. Join us on a Saturday morning for a two-hour, in-depth exploration of these plays and interactions with the artists who created them.

Jeff Wray, Illuminating Conversations co-moderator

Professor Jeff Wray

Professor, MSU Film and Media Studies; Film and Media Production; Creative Writing; Race and Ethnic Studies. He is also the Timnick Chair in the Humanities at MSU.

Wray’s film, The Evolution of Bert (2014), premiered at the 2014 50th Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF) in the New Directors competition. Bert also screened in the Black Perspectives program and was in competition for the Roger Ebert Award at the CIFF. Other films include China (2003) funded by and produced for PBS, The Soul Searchers: Three Stories (2008) and two films in post-production; the concert film BLAT! Pack Live and the short drama Songs for my Right Side.  Films have screened in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Zurich and Berlin. China was broadcast nationally in the U.S. during 2003 and 2004. Grants and honors include a PBS/Independent Television Service (ITVS) American Stories III Production Grant, John Anson Kittredge Foundation Fellowship, Art Serve Michigan Individual Artist Award, Ohio Arts Council Major Fellowship, Rockefeller Foundation Film and Video Fellowship nominations and a filmmaker residency at the Wexner Center for the Arts at the Ohio State University.  All films produced by Tama Hamilton-Wray & Jeffrey C. Wray.

Insight Previews

Insight Previews are informative talks presented by topic experts who provide unique insights into the performances. Insight Previews are free and occur 45 minutes prior to selected performances.

After Chats

After Chats are free post-performance conversations with members of the touring company. Following the curtain call, audience members who wish to remain for the After Chat will be invited to come sit close to the stage. This informal question and answer session will be moderated by a member of Wharton Center’s staff.

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