A new play is opening Wednesday to mark an important but also dark chapter at Concordia University.
Blackout is a theatrical production that looks back at events 50 years ago that led to a riot, ending with 97 students being arrested.
Hundreds of students occupied the computer centre on the ninth floor of the Hall building on January 29, 1969 at Sir George Williams University — which, today, is part of Concordia.
Following accusations of racism against a professor for treatment of black students — specifically those from the West Indies — the students were protesting the little action university administrators had allegedly taken in the case.
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The occupation of the ninth floor started peacefully, but eventually deteriorated when a fire was started, university property was destroyed and 97 students were arrested after riot police were called in to intervene.
“It’s a little bit of a forgotten piece of Montreal history and we thought it was important to commemorate it in this theatrical event,” Mathieu Murphy-Perron, director of Blackout, told Global News.
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Twelve actors and actresses are playing the parts of the students.
The setting begins in 1968, when some students from the West Indies feel like they were the targets of discrimination by one of their professors.
“The history is incredible,” cast member Briauna James told Global News. “The fact that this happened in Montreal 50 years ago and I knew nothing about it is crazy to me.”
Work on the theatrical production began more than a year ago. The cast of 12 is thrilled to be part of the performance.
“The engines are roaring and I’m ready to go,” cast member Kym Dominique-Ferguson told Global News.
“It’s an amazing production.”
Blackout opens January 30th and runs until February 10th at the D.B. Clarke Theatre at Concordia University.