May 10, 2022

Students Connect With Local Black Theater Institution

“The challenge is really how does a predominantly white institution like Princeton thoughtfully build a relationship with a predominantly Black institution? That’s really the heart of it, and I think something that our students need to really be thinking about and wrestling with for this country to take the next step forward.”
— Jane Cox

During the racial reckoning that followed George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police in 2020, Jane Cox, Director of the Program in Theater at the Lewis Center for the Arts, had an idea.

“I was spending a lot of time in rooms with mostly white people wringing our hands [and asking], ‘What can we do? How can we be better? How can we learn?’ ” she said. Her thoughts turned to successful institutions led by artists of color, many of which have been around for several decades: “Maybe we could learn some lessons from those institutions.”

For example, the Tony Award-winning Crossroads Theatre Company. Despite its location just 20 minutes away in New Brunswick, the University had no prior relationship with the Black institution.

Cox, who is white, approached Crossroads and eventually connected with Sydné Mahone, director of play development at Crossroads from 1985 to 1997 and creator of the Genesis Festival of New Plays. With the assistance of three grants from Princeton and the support of CLASSIX, an organization dedicated to Black theater, Cox and Mahone’s new class, “Storytellers — Building Community Through Art,” was born.

Learn more about the new course and read the full story online at Princeton Alumni Weekly or in the May 2022 published issue of the magazine.

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