“The Meeting”, a play portraying Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, is all set to open at Madison College on Feb 10 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X are two titans of the Civil Rights Movement, but despite their common goal, they were very different people. These differences and their similarities are at the heart of the play “The Meeting” by Jeff Stetson.
Imagine listening to Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X talk to each other. What do you think that would be like?
“The Meeting” play lets us listen in as these two famous leaders have a make-believe chat. Their wise words and powerful ideas come to life right before our eyes. Though they never met in real life, seeing them together on stage helps us imagine the inspiring conversation they could have had.
Denzel Taylor, an alum of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is directing this play for the second time. His first directed show was a part of last year’s Milwaukee Black Theatre Festival, wherein he directed a cast, and featuring Nahjee Robinson as “Martin Luther King Jr.”. He is leading a brand-new group of actors here in Madison.
When selecting the actors for this play, Taylor wanted to work with familiar faces, as well as the newcomers who are looking for their first big break.
He picked some up-and-coming actors he knew well and had worked with him in the past; including William Toney, who plays Martin Luther King, and Talen Marshall, who plays Malcolm X.
“Performing this play in Madison feels alive. It can make the audience think about the past and the future.” By Taylor.
Taylor believes plays like this one, portraying two big history legends; Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, help people understand history better. That way, people can look more openly at today and work harder for a better tomorrow. He thinks this play can do that.
Dr. Jimmy Cheffen, the community impact lead at Madison College, says “this play gives us an opportunity to start talking about solutions. There are lots of solutions and we won’t all agree with each other. But that’s okay since we all think differently. The play gets the conversation going.”
Taylor thinks “The Meeting” could really speak to Madison.
He further added, “I rewrote the sentence and made it easy to understand. I kept what it was saying the same. Just tell me if you want me to change how it sounds at all. I can make it sound even simpler if you want.”
“Madison is a city that gets passionate about civil, social, and political matters,” says Taylor. He grew up seeing how divided Milwaukee was by race. When he went to college in Madison, Taylor felt like he was seeing the same kind of division.
Taylor wants young people, especially black and brown people, to see how special this performance is. He hopes it makes them excited about theater and want to try it themselves.