The Theatre has many purposes; Entertainment, Enlightenment, and Exploration to name a few. It isn’t without wonder that we see current events of today being tackled to this end. We are always excited, though, to see colleagues embarking on projects that they are particularly passionate about. Part of the joy of making theatre is presenting and providing visibility into communities or stories that are under-represented. Current events are often only publicly told from one perspective in the media. It is this very thing that Drew Florida, Owner and Lead Lighting Designer of production design firm Ch’i Design Studio, is tackling head on. He knows all too well about misrepresentation from the media.

This week Drew is back in his hometown of Flint, Michigan, working on the world premiere of The Most [Blank] City in America at the Flint Youth Theater.

For decades, much of the media has portrayed Flint in a negative light. It is often given the moniker of the most violent city, defined solely by its struggles with violence, joblessness or the current water crisis. But so many, such as Drew and the rest of this production team, know a different Flint. It’s a place of great pride and is not defined by its struggles with violence or the dirty water crisis.

The Most [Blank] City in America asks “how do we hear other people describe Flint”, “how do the people of Flint describe it”, and “how the people would like the city to be defined in the future”? In sharing the stories of Flint-area residents over the last year in schools, churches, community centers, and college classrooms the play attempts to give voice to the perspectives of those that grew up in Flint, that know and love it for its’ complexity.

Writer Andrew Morton has been developing the piece for over a year, working with the local community to create this innovative production. Andrew’s work with the community started long before the water crisis, which has now changed the world’s view on Flint MI.

As the water crisis has thrown Flint back into the public eye in the last few months, there’s been an outpour of support for the city of Flint. This new attention provides new timeliness for this conversation. There have been many people and organizations who have stepped up and shown their support for Flint in recent months: the National Black Theatre in Harlem, the Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof, Cher, Sean Combs, Mark Wahlberg, Pearl Jam, Detroit Lions, Jack White, Jimmy Fallen, Big Sean, Mark Ruffalo, Matt Damon, Meek Mill, Eminem, Jim Gaffigan, as well as the many other artists and activists who have been giving support to the city of Flint, MI.

This is a piece that Drew clearly cares deeply about. It has provided him an opportunity to not only help change the conversation about Flint, but also showcase the thriving artists that hail from the town, and bring business to the community as well.

This is the sort of passion that we are always thrilled to see from our colleagues.

Read more about Drew Florida and Ch’i Design Studio here.

Get Involved: Tickets are available for The Most [Blank] City in America here, running through Sunday, May 1st.

The production is done in collaboration with Tapology and Raise It Up Youth Arts and Awareness, featuring both dance and spoken word performance, and in partnership with Fly Town Puppet Theatre, a program of Mott Middle College.