DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Do you know what happened on Wednesday, March 21? If you haven’t already done so, mark your calendar for the day 79 years ago when Diego Rivera’s famous “Detroit Industry” murals debuted.
To recognize the big day, the Elizabeth Theater above the Park Bar in Detroit will present the play “The Troublemakers: Frida and Diego in Detroit,” Tuesday, March 20, through Thursday, March 22.
It’s from a script by Kresge Literary Artist Fellow Louis Aguilar, which play publicists said, “is based on the actual words said by the artists as well as the many passionate words said by Detroiters in defense or opposition of the artists.”
Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Stephen McGee created visuals based on more than 100 archival photos; and Blue Note recording artist Jessica Hernandez has composed a score based on sounds collected at the Ford Rouge Plant.
The play centers on the time Rivera and his then-unknown artist wife Frida Kahlo, both Communists, arrived in Depression-era Detroit and ignited controversy with art celebrating America’s workers. Between 1932 and 1933, Rivera completed 27 fresco panels titled “Detroit Industry” on the walls of an inner court of the Detroit Institute of Arts.
“(It’s) the finest example of Mexican mural art in the United States, and the artist thought it the best work of his career,” the DIA says on its website.
Rivera, a Marxist, famously believed art belonged only in public spaces, not in private galleries and homes. His personal beliefs were so controversial that during the 1950s, a sign was placed in the courtyard defending the artistic merit of the murals and attacking his politics as “detestable.”
Watch his story unfold through the ensemble cast of The Troublemakers, which includes Kresge Performing Arts Fellow Valeria Montes (AKA La Chispa flamenco dancer) and Hubert Massey, one of the few African-American artists who paints in the same fresco style as Rivera. Other cast members include novelist Lynn Crawford and author Dan Austin; journalists such as Pulitzer Prize winner Charlie LeDuff, WDET’s Martina Guzman and Detroit News editorial writer Ingrid Jacques; musicians such as hip-hop artist Invincible and legendary rock producer Jim Diamond, founder of Ghetto Recorders. Other local artists and community leaders are also featured.
Tickets are $8, $5 for students, and are available by calling the Elizabeth Theater Box Office at 313-444-2294. The box office is open Thursday through Tuesday from 12 p.m. until 7 p.m.