Drama School’s ‘Blood At The Root’ Tackles Complexity of Identity

Penn State’s School of Theater is set to return to the stage with “Blood at the Root” on March 25 at the Pavilion Theater.

Based on the real-life Jena Six, “Blood at the Root” follows six high school students whose high school is rocked when three nooses are left hanging from a well-known tree. In the aftermath, fights break out, both verbal and physical, as a once-close-knit community begins to crumble.

In the face of unfolding events, the characters are forced to wrestle with their thoughts and feelings regarding racism, individuality, nuance, identity, and the tension between objective fact and subjective experience.

“Everything has taken root,” says one character. “The way someone chooses not to sit next to someone in the dining room – has roots. The way someone has trouble with the flag someone else is wearing on their t-shirt – has roots. The way some people talk about the way they talk or hang out with or who they like or hate – all have roots.

“Blood at the Root” had its world premiere at Penn State in 2014 and is directed by college professor Steve Broadnax III. Broadnax recently staged the play “Thoughts of a Colored Man” in its October 2021 Broadway debut.

The show lasts approximately 90 minutes without intermission. Performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 25, but a Saturday matinee will also take place at 2:30 p.m. on March 26. The final show will take place on Saturday April 2.

Priced at $25 for adults and $12.50 for students, tickets can be reserved online via Center Stage website.

Sam is a junior double major in political science and journalism from Ashburn, Virginia. He’s a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. Any hateful comments can be directed to [email protected] or @TheSammer88 on all social media platforms.

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Sharon D. Cole