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a pint of understanding

an original musical in development

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Thank you New York Theatre Barn
Choreography Lab

Jonathan Lee, choreographer
Dancers: Les Gibbs, Kenneth Herrera, Julia Miller, Amy Mitchell, Greg Sim, Ava Trochiano
Piano: Takeru Saito. Vocals: Maria Menniti and Grant Bloom.

Police officer Chandra Jones and three other colleagues of Sgt. Tim O'Connor show blind support for their white colleague's arrest of renowned African American scholar Chester Washington III — despite O'Connor's dubious actions. Video by Full Out Creative, courtesy of New York Theatre Barn.

Jonathan Lee's artistic statement:

"My approach to the song “It’s In The Police Report” was to capture the blind support that police officers have for one another. I wanted to show the police department as if they were a secret society where even if they did something wrong, their fellow officers would all agree to know what to say publicly despite knowing the hard truth. I wanted to create a blue wall of solidarity that seemed impenetrable to public opinion or scrutiny."

Curated by Avital Asuleen, New York Theatre Barn's Choreography Lab makes space for choreographers to bring original musicals to life, often for the first time.  On March 12, 2023, the featured musicals were Paradise Ballroom (Princess Lockerooo, choreographer), A Pint of Understanding (Jonathan Lee, choreographer) and Tanya’s Lit Clit (Tatiana Baccari & Jasmine Roth, choreographers).

Laurence O'Keefe and Kevin Murphy moderated. Tori Crow is the lab’s associate producer. The performance was streamed live from Open Jar Studios, 1601 Broadway, New York City.  

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the story

It’s 2012. Arriving home after a trip, Professor Chester Washington III, a renowned African American scholar, finds the door to his house jammed and his life’s work about to be put to the test. When Tim O’Connor, a white police officer, arrests him while investigating an alleged burglary at his home, two very different stories emerge, and a media circus erupts.

The U.S. president stages a meeting at the White House, the “Beer Talks,” launching the professor and the policeman on a profound journey. The professor’s daughter Chloe, an outspoken artist and cultural critic, films these freshly minted presidential advisers on a national “listening tour," and they soon prove to be a radioactive trio.

A varied jazz-inspired score creates vivid moments in this examination of race, class, perspective — and hope.

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Joel LaRue Smith


Joel LaRue Smith


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Benny Sato Ambush

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Hip Hop
Musical Theatre
I'm Professor Chester Washington the Third

I'm Professor Chester Washington the Third

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Two Gentlemen, Two Suitcases (excerpt)

Two Gentlemen, Two Suitcases (excerpt)

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Black and White and Blue All Over

Black and White and Blue All Over

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Contempt of Cop (excerpt)

Contempt of Cop (excerpt)

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inside the process

The why and how of it.

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Let's just do it

Composer Joel LaRue Smith

On producing a musical

Composer Joseph Smith

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in partnership with Fractured Atlas

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A Pint of Understanding is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of A Pint of Understanding must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

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