Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Six young black male playwrights give personal responses to policing and profiling in the US and the legacy of the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri

When a white police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9th 2014, it sparked a wave of protest across America and became emblematic in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Now, six black American playwrights aged between 30 and 40 years old, dig deep into what it’s like being young, black and male today in an America of institutionalised profiling.

Hands Up’began as part of a theatre festival, The New Black Fest, based in New York. Keith Josef Adkins who runs the festival wanted these playwrights to think hard about their personal politics and to respond to what happened in Ferguson. They looked at the immediate aftermath of the tragic event, the protests and the wider implications.

Their testaments are extremely varied. For some, what happened to Michael Brown could happen to them anytime, any day, and they live in constant fear of witnessing or experiencing profiling, harassment, arrest and even a fatal shooting. Others feel guilty about not being able to relate to the racism Michael Brown faced because they come from a wealthier background, or because they come from the metropolis, or are lighter skinned. For one writer it’s a sense of ambivalence because he was adopted by white parents. They all attempt to understand Brown’s experience, to figure out what he could have done differently, if anything. They share their fears and feelings through real and imagined scenarios, and they offer their ideas and dreams about how to fight racism and change society.

The plays are linked by comments from young black men interviewed on the streets of New York and documentary news material from St Louis Public Radio and WBEZ Chicago.

The plays and playwrights:
How I Feel by Dennis A. Allen II

Walking Next to Michael Brown by Eric Holmes

Superiority Fantasy by Nathan James

Holes in my Identity by Nathan Yungerberg

They Shootin! by Idris Goodwin

Abortion: Letter to a Beautiful Soul by NSangou Njikam

This is the first in a two part series, Black and Blue, about black men and the police in America, broadcast on consecutive days . Judith Kampfner adapted Hands Up from the stage and the second play, String Music, from a George Pelecanos short story. Both were recorded and produced in America.

Dorian Missick
Clark Jackson
Jordan Mahome
Eden Marryshow
Jamie Lincoln Smith
Gregarious Reid
Moti Margolin
Sydney Beveridge
Eisa Davis
Linda Powell

Music by Gene Pritsker
Sound Design by Allen Towbin
Produced by Judith Kampfner

A Corporation for Independent Media production for BBC Radio 4

44 minutes

Last on

Wed 7 Nov 2018 14:15


Role Contributor
Actor Dorian Missick
Actor Clark Jackson
Actor Jordan Mahome
Actor Eden Marryshow
Actor Jamie Lincoln Smith
Actor Gregarious Reid
Actor Moti Margolin
Actor Sydney Beveridge
Actor Eisa Davis
Actor Linda Powell
Producer Judith Kampfner
Writer Dennis A Allen II
Writer Eric Holmes
Writer Nathan James
Writer Nathan Yungerberg
Writer Idris Goodwin
Writer NSangou Njikam
Adaptor Judith Kampfner


  • Wed 27 Jul 2016 14:15
  • Wed 7 Nov 2018 14:15

The Shakespeare Sessions

The Shakespeare Sessions

Immerse yourself in Shakespeare’s world