Theatre casts Grand Center Arts Academy teacher in lead role
Theatre casts Grand Center Arts Academy teacher in lead role
Posted on 10/11/2012
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Eric Conners GCAA

The Black Rep cast Eric Conners as the male lead in its production of “Anne and Emmett.” The play, written by Janet Langhart Cohen, will commemorate the 20th anniversary of The Black Rep performing in the Grandel Theatre. The play runs from October 25 through November 4.


Conners teaches theater arts at Grand Center Arts Academy, a Confluence Charter School. He has been teaching for 18 years, and has been a professional actor for 20 years.


In a place called Memory, Anne Frank and Emmett Till meet and share their stories. Both are victims of racial intolerance and hatred. Frank’s diary revealed her perspective of the Holocaust. Till’s death in Mississippi influenced the American Civil Rights Movement.


“It was very interesting how this role came about for me,” said Conners. “This summer, I went to a social justice institute and I remember saying to some of the teachers that I really wanted to get back on stage. I put that out into the universe and the universe responded.


“I actually received a message from Ron Himes, artistic director and founder of The Black Rep. He simply said ‘I have a project I want you to do.’ Once I discovered what the project was, of course I accepted,” Conners continued.


“In preparing for the role of Emmett Till, I had to do a lot of research, watch a lot of videos and read articles about his life. I watched interviews with his mother and those who knew him best.”


“It means a lot to me to play the role of Emmett Till. I actually find it to be an honor to tell his story to the world and to keep his story alive,” he said.


Conners said that being an educator was always “his first dream.” He said he is blessed that he gets to be a teacher and to perform. “I am one of the fortunate people in which my passion and purpose link together.”


“Teaching is a lot like acting. Seven classes means seven performances for me. You have an audience you must inspire, enlighten, educate and build connections with. It affects my classroom greatly. Because I am excited about what I do, the students are excited, too. They feel my passion and desire to educate,” he said.


For students who have a chance to see “Anne and Emmett,” Conners hopes they learn a “sense of responsibility and obligation to keep both Anne and Emmett’s memory alive. I hope they understand that the lives that we are portraying were once real, breathing human beings whose lives changed the world as we know it.”

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