This Greenville Journal article by Paul Hyde was originally published on September 30th, 2022.
Dominique Morisseau’s drama, running Sept. 30 through Oct. 16 at The Warehouse Theatre, refers to the school-to-prison pipeline, and it asks some tough questions, according to the show’s stage director Ahsha Daniels.
“The school-to-prison pipeline describes the policies or conducts that drive children, specifically children of color, down a path that begins in the school system and ends in the criminal justice system,” Daniels said. “Did we help guide them along the way? Did we give them a fair chance? Did we offer them the same opportunities?”
The play, with a six-member cast, centers on Nya, an inner-city public high school teacher who is committed to her students but desperate to give her only son Omari opportunities her students will likely never have.
When a controversial incident at his Upstate private school threatens to get him expelled, Nya must confront her son’s rage and her own choices as a parent.
“Nya is absolutely right to do whatever she can to provide better opportunities for her son,” Daniels said. “As Nya says, ‘I wouldn’t be worth my salt as a mother if I didn’t.’ She knows the system. She works in the school system. She has seen firsthand how the pipeline works. One misstep, one wrong decision, one bad day and he has slipped or been pushed down the pipeline.”
Too often, as one character in the play says, young people get caught in the pipeline and “become the expectation.”
Daniels is enjoying her directorial debut at the Warehouse Theatre. Recent directing credits include “Alice in Wonderland” at Spartanburg Youth Theatre, “The Color Purple” at Spartanburg Little Theatre and Morisseau’s “Detroit ’67” at USC Upstate. Upcoming engagements for Daniels include “Project Dawn” at Furman University and “Once on This Island” for the S.C. Children’s Theatre.