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Dream Deferred: Detroit, 1967

Al Jazeera
Remembering the Detroit riots 50 years on​

Sunday marks the 50-year anniversary of one of the worst civil disturbances in US history. Many historians mark the Detroit riots on July 23 as the beginning of the decline of one of the country's largest cities. The event is being remembered at museums and theatres across the city.Al Jazeera's John Hendren reports from Detroit.

Our final play of the 2016-2017 season, Dream Deferred: Detroit, 1967 was our most successful production Matrix Theatre Company's 26-year history.


What began as a simple phone call from Dr. Xavier Nicholas to Megan Buckley-Ball, Matrix Theatre’s Artistic Director, resulted in the organization’s most successful play – ever! Buckley-Ball’s ability to envision the creative possibilities within a set of interviews conducted by Dr. Nicholas shortly after the 1967 uprising in Detroit, allowed her, along with the play’s director, David Wolber, to turn these interviews into an “awe-inspiring” final production for the season. Using Dr. Nicholas’ intense interviews as a base, Wolber and Buckley-Ball created a sensitive, honest, critically acclaimed, internationally recognized production of what is deemed to be one of the most painful experiences in Detroit history.


Dream Deferred: Detroit, 1967 was a riveting portrayal of the insurrection using people’s actual words as they presented their view of this historic insurrection. Portrayals included the governor of Michigan, police officers, the mayor of Detroit, and even a mother who had just stolen food from an abandoned grocery store. Many audience members shared that, while they thought they knew all about the event, after seeing the play they realized they had learned so much more.


Dream Deferred: Detroit, 1967 resulted in a 167 percent increase in income for the Theatre in spring of 2017. Actors performed to consistently sold-out houses, and a three-week extension was added in order to accommodate the high request for tickets. This is the only multi-week extension in the history of Matrix Theatre Company.


Dream Deferred: Detroit, 1967 went on to be performed at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts. For additional performance inquiries, please contact Megan Buckley-Ball, Matrix's Artistic Director, at .


On this page are some of the links to our local, national, and international news coverage as well as links to reviews, interviews, and more. 

American Black Journal - 6/4/17
Black Detroit: A People’s History of Self-Determination /
Dream Deferred: Detroit, 1967

A local production by the Matrix Theatre Company gives voice to the unique experiences and perspectives of Detroiters immediately following the 1967 civil disturbance. 

Fox 2 Detroit (WJBK)
Dream Deferred: Detroit 1967
play tells stories from city's tumultuous time

In the aftermath of the riot, a man named Prof. Xavier Nicholas interviewed dozens of people about their experiences - from Gov. Romney to police on the streets to residents who lost everything. Fifty years later that remarkable collection of stories is finally being shared in an incredible original report called "Dream Deferred: Detroit, 1967". M.L. Elrick sits down with the show's director and members of the cast act out scenes from the play.

Encore Michigan - Review
‘Dream Deferred’ Explores Detroit’s Explosive Summer of ’67

"Dream Deferred is riveting, honest, and respectful of the material. Unlike some politically charged shows, there is no exploitation of sensational subject matter, no preaching, no blatant shaming. Instead, we have the verbatim accounts of about 40 eyewitnesses, portrayed by five actors, who tell their version of the events of July 23-27, 1967. Dream Deferred is both instructional and mesmerizing. It’s a must-see show for anyone who cares about Detroit and its history. Although the subject matter is not appropriate for young children, mature teens and sentient adults cannot help but benefit from experiencing this production and the integrity with which it presents a dark chapter in our past." -Patrice Nolan

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