Passage Theater Company Presents The World Premiere of “The OK Trenton Project”


originally published: 04/01/2022

(TRENTON, NJ) – Five years ago, a group of students from Trenton spent their summer creating a sculpture called ‘Helping Hands’. They have learned the skills to build something from scratch with the promise that their work will be displayed publicly in their community. Four days after installation, the sculpture was taken down due to anonymous complaints that the room looked too much like a gang symbol. Based on a true story and composed of textual interviews with people directly involved, The OK Trenton Project, presented by Passage Theater Company in Trenton, New Jersey, is an experience that explores the role art plays in the community and the consequences when it is removed. The world premiere production will take place at the Mill Hill Playhouse (205 E. Front Street, Trenton) from February 10-27, 2022. Press are invited to the opening night performance on February 12 at 7:30 pm.

“We are delighted to present this urgent new work which has been developed over the past four years as part of Passage’s PlayLab program,” notes Passage Theater artistic director Ryanne Domingues. “The OK Trenton Project, which is part of our “Trenton Makes” season, demonstrates our commitment to telling the important stories of our community and to giving Trenton residents a voice in our artistic programming. The Passage family look forward to sharing the result of our years of hard work with our community of Trenton and beyond.

In August 2017, “Helping Hands,” a new sculpture, was installed on vacant city-owned land at the corner of Perry and Montgomery streets in Trenton, New Jersey. The sculpture was designed and built by 17 students at a summer camp run by the non-profit HomeFront group, in collaboration with Isles, Inc., and artist Eric Schultz of Grounds for Sculpture. Following concerns that the sculpture looked too much like a gang symbol and could send the wrong message to residents, the piece was removed and placed back in the artist’s studio. Told through the words of Trenton artists, law enforcement, city officials, residents and students, The OK Trenton Project tells the story of what a work of art can mean to a community.

Passage Theater Company Presents The World Premiere of

The OK Trenton Project was developed by Passage’s PlayLab program over a four-year period. Meanwhile, a team of local visual and performing artists were assembled to conduct interviews. Directed by playwrights David Lee White and Richard Bradford and directed by Domingues, the show had an open-air public reading in the Mill Hill Park Amphitheater in the summer of 2021, ahead of the world premiere. The February production features an ensemble cast of Kevin Bergen, Richard Bradford, Carmen Castillo, Molly Casey Chapman and Wendi Smith. Each performer plays several characters throughout the play.

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COVID HEALTH AND SAFETY: Vaccination policy: Members of the public over the age of 12 will be required to prove that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 when entering the theater. Exceptions will be made for children under 12 and people benefiting from a medical or religious exemption from vaccination. These guests must present proof of a negative PCR test performed within 36 hours of performance time or a negative antigen test performed within 6 hours of performance time. All guests, regardless of age or immunization status, will be required to wear masks inside the theater building. Passage will provide free masks if required.

Contactless transactions: When possible, Passage encourages customers to purchase tickets in advance to reduce waiting time at the box office. Virtual and paper programs will be available.

Hand sanitizer: Hand sanitizer will be available at several locations throughout the facility.

Refunds and Exchanges: If Passage has to cancel a performance, the sponsor’s ticket will be fully refunded. If a client needs to reschedule a visit for health reasons, they can do so for any performance throughout the season with a ticket of equal or lesser value.

Selection questions: Before arriving at the theater, clients will be asked to undergo a health examination. Customers will be asked to accept that they are not currently ill or waiting for test results before entering the performance hall. They will also be asked to state that they have not been exposed to anyone who tested positive for the coronavirus in the past 14 days.

Corina C. Butler