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University Theatre performs 'Goodnight, Tyler'

Courtesy Photo

Central Michigan University Theatre is showcasing police brutality and racism in its production of “Goodnight, Tyler” written by B.J. Tindal.

The performances are at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5-9 in the Bush Theatre.

“Goodnight, Tyler” is a story of Tyler Evans, who is portrayed by Detroit senior Trell Isaac, a 26-year-old Black man. In half the show, Tyler comes back to his apartment as a “ghost version” to tell his friends that he was killed by the police. In the second half the audience watches and learns who Tyler was while he was alive. 

Elaine DiFalco Daugherty, theatre and dance faculty member, is directing the show. She said she’s using a new lens by dedicating her passions of the arts to telling the untold stories of the Black experience here at CMU.  

“I spent so much time in the last couple of years, having conversations with our Black theater students about things that need to change and things that need to be done,” Daugherty said.

With in-person performances opening up, 45 students auditioned for the play. 

Daugherty said that directing this time around was “way easier” than last year. Due to COVID-19 vaccine mandates for anyone participating in theater productions, there is more flexibility with masks, 6 feet social distancing guidelines and on-stage skin-to-skin contact.

In hopes that Black students can see themselves reflected in the Arts, Daugherty said she believes its important for audiences to see plays that are encompassing of their backgrounds and communities.

“I strongly believe it's so important for our students to have roles where they see themselves reflected and that has not historically been the case,” Daugherty said. “I'm committed to finding these opportunities for our students.” 

Isaac has the opportunity to shed light on police brutality, a topic he said he believes has left the public eye since the protests following the death of George Floyd.

“We can’t just pretend like it’s not still happening today,” Isaac said. “This isn’t something that is easy, quick or a temporary fix. Things were happening before the George Floyd event and things are going to continue to happen after the George Flyod event unless we make a change.”  

The purpose of the department putting on “Goodnight Tyler” was to bring awareness to racism and police brutality while also giving Black students a voice, a face and a sense of belonging at CMU, said Daugherty.

She said the department of theatre and dance does not have a faculty member of color and as a result, stories similar to this one have gone untold. 

Isaac agreed with Daugherty in terms of the lack of representation of the Black community at CMU, specifically among the department of theatre and dance.

“It’s an overwhelming amount of Caucasian people in the theatre department,” Isaac said. “I don’t think CMU can even do as many shows like this, that they want to, due to just the lack of people of color in the theatre department. I feel like CMU does their best job but I don’t feel fully represented.”