RED & BLACK
a new musical
What is Red & Black?
Originally inspired by bringing the themes of state violence, queerness, and misogyny to the surface of the classic Les Miserables, Red & Black is a contemporary musical exploring the ever-increasing struggles facing young people in present-day America. Using a collage structure, Red & Black juxtaposes work created in ensemble explorations with the journey of Julian, a Black boy whose mother was murdered by the police. He navigates the world around him, which is the world around us; his story in orbit
with all of ours. The piece was previously developed with two separate youth ensembles who contributed theatrical explorations based on their personal experiences, centering the complexities of community and intersectionality. Sheridan Merrick and Nick Hatcher are the co-conceivers and book writers of Red & Black, with Sheridan also acting as lead composer in collaboration with David Thomas, Birdy Lynn, Mae River Waldron, Lydia
Williams, Cam Harrigan, Hallie Nowicki, and Jared Chichester.
THE FIRST PROCESS
In their final semester as students at The University of the Arts, Nick Hatcher and Sheridan Merrick led an ensemble-based workshop to explore their initial ideas and materials for Red & Black, and to develop music with and around the experiences of the ensemble. How do we process the news in this era of information overload? How do we fight for our rights while also fighting to survive in a capitalist society? What happens when a child becomes a teenager, and suddenly discovers that they are Black, or queer, or a woman in
a world that refuses to see the fullness of their humanity? And how do we keep that humanity and all that comes with it -- joy, mistakes, complexity – alive? These are the questions they sought to explore, culminating in three final performances in the Caplan Studio Theatre, funded by the Corzo Center Impact Grant.
In spring of 2020 Red & Black was selected from over 150 submissions to be produced alongside three other musicals for the Polyphone Festival of New & Emerging Musicals, performed on the Wilma Theatre stage. While the process was unfortunately cut short due to COVID-19, Nick and Sheridan spent three weeks in rehearsals with an ensemble of student performers workshopping and developing the piece, with Sam Tower acting as co-director with Nick. They look forward to bringing this development to life once it is safe to create in person again.