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Plowshares Theatre promotes faith, community with ‘Gem of the Ocean’

DETROIT — Plowshares Theatre Company says its newest production, “Gem of the Ocean,” continues its ongoing celebration of Black women.

“‘Gem’ highlights the power of a woman’s faith,” says Scott Norman, managing director for Plowshares. “It is also a play about grooming our next generation to be responsible men and women, the responsibility of sacrifice in one’s life and the lasting legacy that slavery has on the Black family.”

“Gem of the Ocean” is the story of a young man, Citizen, who seeks redemption in the face of an innocent man’s death. “He didn’t pull the trigger or push the knife,” explains Norman, “but because of his foolish choices as a young man, his actions result in the death of another man. He feels guilty, corrupted to his core. So, he turns to Aunt Ester, a 287-year-old spiritual healer who is the rock of the community. Through her faith in God, in her ancestry, and in her fellow man, she takes him on a healing journey that helps him eventually realize his full potential as a man.”

The action of the story, set just after the Civil War, takes place in the home of Aunt Ester, a common place of congregation for people in need of counseling and spiritual healing. Aunt Ester is attended to by Eli, her caregiver and protector, and Black Mary, her protégé. Citizen’s suspicious visit upon the home garners the attention of two important figures in town: Solly Two Kings, a former slave from Alabama who later became a conductor on the Underground Railroad; and the local constable, Caesar Wilkes, a cynical man deeply disappointed in his people, and wary of Citizen’s intentions with Black Mary, Caesar’s sister.

According to Norman, “‘Gem of the Ocean’ stands out in the canon of plays written by August Wilson,” the Black playwright famous for his cycle of plays depicting many of the challenges faced by African American life in the 20th century.

“Gem of the Ocean” runs April 20 through May 12, with a preview performance April 19 at 7:30 p.m. Show times are Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. with a special Sunday evening performance at 7 p.m. on April 21.

Tickets can be purchased at, or by calling 313.744.3181. Prices vary based on seating, date and time of performance, and number of tickets purchased. Discounts are extended to senior citizens and students with a valid ID.

The Boll Family YMCA Theatre is located at 1401 Broadway St., Detroit.

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