The Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, like many urban areas, has changed significantly in the 30 years since playwright Anna Deavere Smith presented the tension between Black and Orthodox Jewish residents in Fires in the Mirror. A series of monologues adapted from Smith’s verbatim interviews with individual witnesses and performed by a single actor, the play chronicles the lead-up to and consequences of an uprising that occurred after a Jewish driver struck and killed a Black child with his car; hours later, Black residents beat and stabbed a Jewish man who ultimately died of his injuries. “It’s about race and it’s about power and it’s about turf and it’s about tribes,” Smith has said of the work. Those themes remain relevant in both theater and contemporary life, making Fires in the Mirror worth revisiting. In D.C., that revisiting will happen at Theater J, with January LaVoy starring in it and serving as co-director. A theater dedicated to exploring the nuances of Jewish cultural heritage seems like a perfect landing spot for a play that does just that, and LaVoy, an accomplished actor and audiobook narrator, just might be the ideal person to present these narratives. June 9 to July 3 at Theater J, 1529 16th St. NW. $30–$75.
For more theater recommendations check out our calendar.