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'Hands Up' play in Atlanta depicts realities of Black America

The production is a series that brings in local voices and activists to highlight different issues facing the Black community.

ATLANTA — A local play is bringing an important message to the stage.

"Hands Up" is showcasing the realities of life as a Black person in America. Cast and crew are doing this by telling stories.

Co-director and Spelman Professor Keith Arthur Bolden said the production is made of stories of trauma and joy. The goal, he said, is for other communities to gain a better understanding and build empathy for the Black community.

"Sometimes it is not possible to walk in a person's shoes," Bolden said. "But to understand that person has taken a journey in those shoes and to honor that journey and now say, how can we move together forward?" 

"Hands Up" got started in 2015 in response to the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teen shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, according to Alliance Theater.

The production in Atlanta is a series that brings in local voices and activists to highlight different issues facing the Black community.

After the shows, Bolden said the audience has the opportunity to engage in a conversation with the cast about the messages and meanings behind the stories on stage. 

"It creates an opportunity for people who would normally not be in the same space together as equals to have a conversation," he said.

Bolden added he hopes these shows spark more conversation outside the theater to create a more inclusive world.

"I'm hoping that the people will come to the show, start to listen effectively and use some of the tools to show the information in the show that we create: empathy and synergy between humans and humanity."

The show will be on a community tour that will be taking place Friday and Sunday at the Southwest Art Center. Bolden said the shows are open to anyone and he encourages everyone to come out.

"I just challenge people to not be afraid of something they think may not be for them," he said.  "The themes are universal. The joy is universal. The fear is universal."

You can also stream the show online from now until Nov. 14.