HARTFORD — Playhouse on Park and the Connecticut Historical Society are partnering to explore how theater can help us discuss racism in American history in a special panel event scheduled for July 30 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Running through August 4, Playhouse on Park closes its 10th Season with Kander and Ebb’s Tony nominated “The Scottsboro Boys,” a musical in which nine African-American men, wrongly convicted of rape in the 1930s, tell their story using minstrelsy, an historically racist form of entertainment. This coincides with the Connecticut Historical Society’s run of “Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow,” a traveling exhibition from the New York Historical Society. On July 30, the public is invited to a panel discussion to look at how the production helps us to explore the themes of racism and resistance explored in the exhibition.

Panelists include the Hon. Richard A. Robinson, chief justice of the CT Supreme Court; Professor Diana R. Paulin of Trinity College; and Frank Mitchell, executive director of the Amistad Center for Arts & Culture. The panel will be moderated by Attorney Valerie Caldwell-Gaines.

The Honorable Richard A. Robinson was born December 10, 1957 in Stamford. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Connecticut in 1979 and a Juris Doctor degree from West Virginia University School of Law in 1984. Before his appointment to the Superior Court in 2000, Justice Robinson served as Assistant Corporation Counsel in Stamford. Justice Robinson was elevated to the Appellate Court in 2007, the Supreme Court in 2013, and then elevated to the position of Chief Justice in May 2018. Over his many years as a jurist, Robinson has served the legal profession in many capacities and received numerous awards.

Frank Mitchell is executive director of The Amistad Center for Art & Culture. Previously, Mitchell held the role of assistant director and curator after serving as the curator-at-large for three years. During his time at The Amistad Center, Mitchell redefined the exhibition program from a collection-based focus on historical timelines to a topical exhibition program that integrates collections material and loans of contemporary art and partnerships with leading artists. Mitchell began his career as a community programs coordinator at the Studio Museum in Harlem and has curated, organized, and produced many exhibitions and programs across the state. He holds a doctor of philosophy degree in American Culture from the University of Michigan, a master of arts degree in African-American Studies from Yale University, and bachelor of arts degree from Bowdoin College.

Diana R. Paulin has a joint appointment in American Studies and English. She earned her B.A. at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., her MA in English literature at the University of Washington in Seattle, her Ph.D. in English and American literature at Stanford University. Before joining the faculty at Trinity College, she had a joint appointment in English and American Studies at Yale University. “Imperfect Unions: Staging Miscegenation U.S. Drama and Fiction” was published by the University of Minnesota Press in July 2012. She has also published articles in Theatre Journal, Cultural Critique, and The Journal of Drama Theory and Criticism, as well as chapters in the Critical Anthology of African American Performance and Theater History and in White Women in Racialized Spaces.

Attorney Valerie Caldwell-Gaines is General Counsel to Charter Oak Health Center and formerly a private practitioner in the areas of labor and employment law as well as child protection and family law. She previously served at the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities in a variety of capacities. Attorney Caldwell-Gaines has a Masters in Social Work from the University of Louisville and received her JD from the University of Connecticut School of Law. She is an adjunct professor at UConn School of Law, and was also an adjunct professor at University of Hartford, Boston College School of Social Work.

This event is free and open to the public. Museum galleries will be open before the program. Light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP by emailing rsvp@chs.org or calling 860-236-5621 ext. 238.

Questions? Contact Natalie Belanger, Adult Programs Manager, at natalie_belanger@chs.org. The CHS is located at One Elizabeth Street, Hartford.

Connecticut Media Group