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‘Cut & Paste’ podcast: Theater company uses real stories to stage Ferguson

Lee Patton Chiles, left, and Cecilia Nadal
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio
Lee Patton Chiles, left, and Cecilia Nadal

When Cecilia Nadalof Gitana Productions heard about Michael Brown's shooting death, she raced right over to Ferguson. She wanted to participate in the protests and try to understand what happened, but she also “knew that I was looking for something."

Cecilia Nadal
Credit Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio
Cecilia Nadal

What she found, among other things, were stories. Now, Nadal and playwright and educator Lee Patton Chilesare using those stories in a play called “Black and Blue,” referencing the historical tension between African-American communities and law enforcement, presenting the viewpoints of both. It opens May 22 and will be free of charge throughout its entire run.

In this installment of our “Cut & Paste” arts and culture podcast, we talk with Nadal and Chiles about their efforts to transform tragedy into  grace.

Here’s some of what we learned from this dramatic pair, who share a passion for social justice as well as a close friendship:

  • Patton on how Cecilia first “hornswaggled” her into working together decades ago: “I think it was more badgering than enticing. And then she sent these really huge, obnoxious flower thing.” Tweet #cutpastestl
  • Cecilia on being both pro-protester and pro-police: "It's possible to have both views and to be sane and having both views." Tweet #cutpastestl
  • Patton on people thinking racism is over: "A lot of people are like, 'Didn't we fix this in the '60s, aren't we done with this yet?'" Tweet #cutpastestl
  • Cecilia on her daughter Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, and her controversial tweets and other comments about Ferguson: “My daughter was privileged, because she got sent to private schools as well as public schools, and shocked, [and] had no context for her experience on the streets with teargas.” Tweet #cutpastestl

In March, Nancy Fowler will bring you the story of a Ferguson resident who's taking his activism into the realm of acting in a drama workshop around "Black and Blue." David Royal heard the gunshots that killed Michael Brown, and has spent the last six months protesting while finishing up a degree at a technical college and raising a family. Royal wants his kids -- and all children -- to know that the stage is good option for releasing difficult feelings.

Cut & Paste

Look for new "Cut & Paste" (#cutpastestl) podcasts every few weeks on our website. You can also subscribe to “Cut & Paste” through the "View all Podcasts & RSS Feeds" link.

Follow Willis Arnold on Twitter: @WillisRArnold

Follow Nancy Fowler on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL

Follow Maria Chappelle Nadal on Twitter: @MariaChappelleN

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Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.