On Saturday, April 4, The Third Crossing,a play written by Quinney College Professor Debora Threedy, will be performed in a reader’s theater at a conference sponsored by the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities (ASLCH). Threedy, who in addition to her legal credentials is also trained as an actor, submitted the work in response to the conference’s call for performance pieces. The play will be read by a volunteer cast made up of a diverse group of conference attendees, that includes law professors and non-law professors from English departments and cultural studies departments in the U.S. and Canada. Cast members include Erika George, a fellow professor at the S.J. Quinney College of Law.
Threedy’s play explores interracial relationships through the prism of an imagined version of the Thomas Jefferson/ Sally Hemings relationship. As Threedy relates, “One scholar labeled them the first family of interracial relationships. Taking that as my cue, the play begins and ends with them, but broadens out to look at other interracial relationships, such as Richard and Mildred Loving, the couple behind the landmark US Supreme Court case striking down racial integrity ‘acts.”
“The style of the play is decidedly post-modern, with elements of Brechtian theater,” Threedy continues. “The actors frequently break the fourth wall, speaking directly to the audience to comment on the events onstage.” She adds that there is no attempt made at historical realism. For example, Sally speaks not as an 18th century slave but as a contemporary, and refers to modern figures like Oprah and her film doppelganger Thandie Newton. Similarly, Thomas Jefferson gives a speech using a microphone.
In addition to presenting the play, Threedy is also also chairing two panels, one on Maternal-Fetal Conflict: From Infanticide to Infertility, and one on Using Narrative in Legal Scholarship.
ASLCH is “an organization of scholars engaged in interdisciplinary, humanistically oriented legal scholarship.” The organization’s twelfth annual conference is being hosted by Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts on April 3 and 4, 2009.