Dexter Singleton, an adjunct theater arts professor at HCC, has just been contracted by the University of Michigan to develop and direct a documentary-style play on the Flint Water Crisis.
Singleton, also the Founding Director of Collective Consciousness Theatre Company, will use residents of Flint and students to tell the story of Flint, how the crisis began, and the condition of the community today.
“We will be talking to activists, non-profits and city hall to get the whole story.” Singleton said. “Really, we’re setting out to inspire, to tell the community’s story and to make sure this never happens again.”
In 2014, Flint, under the state of Michigan’s authority, began using the Flint River as its primary water source. Soon after, residents said the water began to look, smell and taste funny. Tests in 2015 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicated dangerous levels of lead in the water at residents’ homes.
“A lot of people may not know this since it’s been going on for years, but the city still doesn’t have clean drinking water.” Singleton said. “There’s a lot of damage control still going on, including public relations firms going door-to-door to keep residents quiet.”
While the crisis occupied national news just a few years ago, ongoing news, including resident’s testimonies and concerns aren’t getting enough attention. Singleton says the medium of a documentary-style play is the perfect vehicle for showcasing real emotion from stories and conversations that have happened every day since the crisis began.
“I’m envisioning a lot of different narratives with a common through line.” Singleton said. “Theatrically, we can draw more people in than a 20-second news clip can.”
Singleton aims to begin work on the play this summer and will continue into the fall semester with the premiere set for April 2019.
“I want people to leave feeling hopeful.” Singleton said. “This is really about the community of Flint. I’m just helping to share their story.”