Our thanks to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Black Swan Lab for New Work for the perspiration and the inspiration.

from the workshop presentation

Bill Bordy Theater, Emerson College  •  Boston, Massachusetts

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.


"Two Gentlemen, Two Suitcases"

featuring Kevin Cirone & Liliane Klein

"I'm Professor Chester Washington III"

featuring Ron Williams & Kevin Cirone

"Contempt of Cop"

featuring Briana Maia

"In the People's Republic of Bainbridge"

featuring Liliane Klein, Ron Murphy, Tyla Collier, Steven Martin

"Sea Change"

featuring Ron Williams & Kevin Cirone

"A Pint of Understanding" - reprise

featuring Christian Figueroa, Ron Williams, Kevin Cirone, Briana Maia, Brian De Lorenzo, Liliane Klein, Tyla Collier, Steven Martin, Ron Murphy

Director Benny Sato Ambush directs Joshua Bailey


Composer Joseph Smith 
"This is a life issue with me."

Composer Joel LaRue Smith
"Leaving a legacy"

Audience Response


"It took our breath away."


"Well done! And I love the collaboration!"


"It is a timely piece done in a very effective way."


"It's an important story and a unique opportunity to open dialogue."


"What I experienced was an immediate and sustained emotional engagement that managed to deepen continuously. I admired the courage of the authors, the actors and the composers with every passing minute and left the venue exhilarated."


"Finish it."

Creative Team  •  The Pint Collaborative



book & lyrics




music director

A Pint of Understanding is funded in part by grants from the Puffin Foundation, the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, the Bob Jolly Charitable Trust, and a host of generous sponsors and donors.