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Liza Jessie Peterson's THE PECULIAR PATRIOT Opens at National Black Theatre

Liza Jessie Peterson's THE PECULIAR PATRIOT Opens at National Black Theatre Liza Jessie Peterson's hilarious and poignant one woman, multimedia show The Peculiar Patriot opened to standing ovation Sunday at Dr. Barbara Ann Teer's National Black Theatre (NBT), kicking off the historical Harlem theater's 49th season, "Black to the Future." NBT and Hi-ARTS have joined forces to present the play, a blistering critique of the American criminal justice system. Peterson, who worked for nearly two decades at Rikers Island in various capacities and was featured in Ava DuVernay's Oscar-nominated documentary 13th, wrote the show, which is directed by Talvin Wilks. The Peculiar Patriot runs through October 1.

The play follows protagonist Betsy LaQuanda Ross, a self-proclaimed peculiar patriot, as she makes regular visits to penitentiaries to boost the morale of her incarcerated friends and family, navigating love amid barbed wire. As she shares neighborhood updates and gossip and reminisces about family, Betsy delivers a searing indictment of the criminal justice system in her own authentic and inimitable style, with a heavy dose of humor to boot.

"Mass incarceration is slavery remixed. As soon as you see the handcuffs go ka-klink, you'll hear the cash register go cha-ching. It is unconscionable that there is a profit motive for building prison beds and making sure they're filled with bodies disproportionately Black and brown," said Peterson. "This is America's most urgent human rights crisis happening right before our very eyes, and I am compelled as a concerned citizen artist to bring urgent attention to the issue."

For show times and tickets visit www.nationalblacktheatre.org, call NBT at (212) 722-3800 or go to NBT's box office, open from 1 to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. National Black Theatre is located at 2031 Fifth Avenue between 125th and 126th streets in Harlem. (Take the 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 subways to 125th Street.)



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