Gripping detective mysteries are not only on the television or streaming on the Internet. They can be found in a live theater production coming to the George Mason University Center for the Arts courtesy of the touring company, L.A. Theatre Works. The show is “In the Heat of the Night”.
The production will be in a live radio drama format adapted from John Ball’s mid-1960’s book “In the Heat of the Night.” His book was a classic not just of police work, but of people grappling with integration trying to move toward a future of respect no matter skin color or ethic status.
Adapted by playwright and screenwriter Matt Pelfrey, “Heat” is the story of a white, Southern police chief from a small town in Alabama, and an African-American detective from the North, who lock horns about a murder, police procedures and how two strong men can work together with respect and dignity to solve a crime. All in the midst of long-standing attitudes about how people are “supposed” to be.
“In our production, the audience becomes part of the performance. We use non-traditional staging as the actors face the audience in a radio studio setting,” said director Brian Kite. “The audience will have an opportunity to find their own truths about race, fear and ultimately respect.”
According to Kite, this production will give the audience the opportunity to deeply feel what the characters are dealing with, “What does it say about me if I accept and respect another who is different than me.”
Veteran actor James Morrison plays Police Chief Gillespie. When asked about the role, he said, “As an actor, we are an instrument to bring characters alive for the audience. We create an illusion.” Morrison also noted that the issues raised in the show remain current.
For Ryan Vincent Anderson who plays Virgil Tibbs, the African-American detective, one of the key things about the show is how the two main characters “build a relationship” to investigate a murder as well as to get along together. Given current events, he expects the powerful story will resonate with audiences who may not be familiar with either the Academy Award winning movie or the Emmy Award winning television show based upon the original book “In the Heat of the Night” book.
The production will put the audience in a ripped-from-the-headlines theatrical experience.