Rock River Players address restorative justice through music, theater

WILLIAMSVILLE — Rock River Players present Justice? Just Us, an original music and theater piece conceived, written, and composed by Dan Dewalt.

In a news release, DeWalt said the evening will be “an exploration of how restorative justice can transform conflict and help heal those who have been harmed by conflict.”

He said the play combines scripted action, improvisation, music, and songs to present the vast array of emotions and intricacies of feeling that most prefer to leave unacknowledged in daily life.

The production delves into racism and xenophobia in America, as experienced through events involving one family; what might have been a lovely dinner to meet a fiancé turns into an ugly confrontation that has the potential to poison everyone's relationships and destroy their ability to function and communicate with each other.

As Dewalt explains in the news release, “While the family patriarch is staunchly conservative, fully in support of the current administration and its draconian efforts to impose its idea of order, the restorative process reveals that things are not so simple. Good people with honorable intentions can find themselves on opposite sides of an issue without any way to bridge the gap between them. (Sound familiar, America?).”

Expanding on typical dramatic structure and the ingredients of music-theater, Justice? Just Us also gives the audience a peek at the restorative process at work.

Restorative Community Justice of Southern Vermont has been responsible for the training of actors to ensure that the audience will get an accurate picture of what restorative practice actually involves.

Dewalt is music director and accompanist for the production. Addie Mahdavi, recently graduated from Middlebury College, is director, while Annie Landenberger is co-producer.

The show features Mike Kelly, Miriam Albee, Ayars Hemphill, and Tino Benson as family members; Louis Vitale as a fiancé standing on shaky ground and Rose Watson, Eileen Fahey, and Laurie Rabut as restorative practitioners. Stewart McDermet is rhyming interlocutor.

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