Play inspired by Mumia case has Phila. premiere this week

A play based on Mumia Abu-Jamal and Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner is premiering in the city this week. It is not a dramatization of the real case of the police officer and the man convicted of killing him. Rather, playwright A. Zell Williams imagined a similar but fictional case as a way to explore race in America. Williams has never lived in Philadelphia; he’s from Fresno and Oakland, California, and is now going to graduate school in New York City. At 27 years old, he was not even born when Faulkner was killed. His play is less about what happened in 1981 and more about what was happening in 2009. “Everyone kept saying we live in a post-racist society. I felt that was untrue,” said Williams during previews at the Adrienne Theater. “If you try to make it picturesque, you make it more grotesque, because you deny the experience of a significant amount of Americans.” The play, “In A Daughter’s Eyes,” is about the daughter of a slain police officer and the daughter of the man convicted of killing him. They meet as the latter, now a lawyer strongly influenced by the Black Panther movement, is preparing an appeal and needs the former’s testimony. Although the premise of the play closely resembles the real case, Williams did not want to include details or conjecture about what happened or did not happen at 13th and Locust on Oct. 9, 1981. “I think we get stuck–this is what I believe and this is the side I’m on,” said Williams. “I wanted to create something that gave both sides a way to state their point and see what happens when you put your staunch beliefs over hearing another person’s beliefs.” The play opens at the Adrienne Theater in Center City on June 1. Meanwhile, the real Abu-Jamal, who was sentenced to death for the murder, was recently been granted a new sentencing hearing.

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