April 25, 2019

Theater curtain

NYU Washington, DC and the Theater and Policy Salon co-hosted an evening Salon Series conversation on the intersections between theater and policy. The Salon conversation centered on Mosaic Theater's production, Native Son.

Still too many contemporary persons of color feel hemmed in by limited opportunities and a hostile environment, as was dramatized in Native Son. The discussion considered how tools of control and punishment fall short in addressing systemic failures and ensuring that those who write and enforce the laws remain accountable to the communities they serve. The panel also explored opportunities to take a comprehensive approach —in public and behavioral health, education, jobs, and housing—in order to prevent crime; reduce violence and recidivism; and close opportunity gaps.  

Panelists for the evening included Dr. Stacey Houston, II, Assistant Professor, George Mason University, Ari Roth, Founding Artistic Director, Mosaic Theater Company, NJ Mitchell, Co-Facilitator, Theater and Policy Salon (TPS), Ajmel Quereshi, Senior Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Karen Volker, Director for Strategic and International Partnerships, Cure Violence.

This program was presented in conjunction with Mosaic Theater Company’s productions of Native Son and Les Deux Noirs: Notes on Notes on A Native Son.

Please note that this event may have been filmed or photographed.


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Dr.  Stacey Houston, II

Dr. Stacey Houston, II

Ari Roth

Ari Roth

NJ Mitchell

NJ Mitchell

Ajmel Quereshi

Ajmel Quereshi

Karen Volker

Karen Volker

About the Performances at Mosaic Theater Company

Native Son

Richard Wright's iconic novel about oppression, freedom, and justice comes to life on stage in this ground-breaking adaptation. Suffocating in rat-infested poverty on the South Side of Chicago in the 1930s, 20-year-old Bigger Thomas struggles to find a place for himself in a world whose prejudice has shut him out. After taking a job in a wealthy white man's house, Bigger unwittingly unleashes a series of events that violently and irrevocably seal his fate. Adapted with theatrical ingenuity by Chicago's own Nambi E. Kelley, this Native Son captures the power of Richard Wright's novel for a whole new generation.

Les Deux Noirs: Notes on Notes of A Native Son

Set in the legendary Parisian café Les Deux Magots in 1953, Les Deux Noirs: Notes on Notes of A Native Son reimagines the meeting between Native Son author Richard Wright and essayist/activist James Baldwin. It explores the tension between Baldwin’s searing critiques of Native Son and Wright’s unbridled indignation in response—a confrontation between two mighty African-American artists, with echoes of a present-day rap battle.


The NYU Washington, DC Salon Series: Conversations with Writers & Artists presents an opportunity for the NYU and Washington, DC community to meet and engage in dialogue with acclaimed writers and artists as they reflect on their craft. This program provides facilitated conversations that aim to illuminate the guests’ creative processes, discuss their current works, and explain the impact of their work on the world around us. The Salon Series is made possible by NYU Washington, DC through the collaboration of NYU schools, departments and centers, as well as through special relationships with selected external organizations.