On November 3, 1979 a group of anti-Klan protestors marching through North Carolina's Morningside-Lincoln Grove neighborhood were met by a caravan of Klansmen and neo-Nazis, who pulled guns on the crowd. They shot 13 people, black and white. Many were shot in the head, including a black woman who was hit between the eyes. Five died. Three trials were held, but nobody served any prison time and the story itself became a footnote to the history of Southern race relations, overshadowed by the international hostage crisis that year. Playwright Emily Mann, whose historically informed repertoire includes Execution of Justice(on the killing of Harvey Milk and George Moscone) and the Broadway hit Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First Hundred Years, aims to rectify the oversight with Greensboro: A Requiem.
As she's done for past productions, Mann interviewed the people who were there and tells the story in their words. Sources range from eyewitnesses to actual Klansmen, and the language veers from poetic to edgy: "Why did everybody drop everything?" demands survivor Doris Gordon of the eroding Civil Rights movement. "I want to know who said: This is over with -- and there go all my friends -- gone." Unconditional Theater, which has bolstered its reputation with political satires like Groping for Justice: The Bob Packwood Story, stages the work. It opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through Nov. 20) at the Buriel Clay Theater, Center for African and African-American Art and Culture, 762 Fulton (at Webster), S.F. Admission is $13-15; call 621-7797. The panel discussion "Interpretations of Greensboro: How Art and Society Reflect the Changing Face of Hate in America" is scheduled as part of the city's official declaration of "Greensboro Massacre Remembrance Day." It begins at 7 p.m. Nov. 3, prior to the performance.