Friday, April 24, 2015

Actors quit L.A. 'Ferguson' play, question writer's motives

It felt like the purpose of the piece was to show, 'Of course he was not indicted -- here's why.'
Philip Casnoff, former 'Ferguson' cast member

Director Nick DeGruccio discusses the play "Ferguson," by Phelim McAleer, with actors during rehearsal. Some cast members have quit in protest over the play's depiction of Michael Brown's shooting by a Missouri police officer. (Matt Pearce / Los Angeles Times)
Veteran actor Philip Casnoff hadn't read the full script yet when he arrived for the first rehearsal of "Ferguson," a play chronicling the shooting of Michael Brown by a Missouri police officer.

Casnoff thought he knew what the play, set for a four-day staged reading starting Sunday at the Odyssey Theater, would be about: the wilderness of testimony the grand jury navigated while investigating the day Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot the unarmed 18-year-old. Casnoff presumed a variety of viewpoints, the fog of truth.

Then he read the script, which tells the story that Brown didn't have his hands up and that he charged at Wilson.  Now, in a case of art imitating life, the play is experiencing the kind of ill will and mistrust that erupted from the city it attempts to portray. Part of the 13-member cast is in revolt — Casnoff and four others have quit — as the playwright and actors are locked in a fundamental disagreement over how to tell the story of Brown's death.--by Matt Pearce

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