Production at Concordia University addresses campus uprising 50 years ago

Click to play video: 'Montreal student uprising marks 50th anniversary'
Montreal student uprising marks 50th anniversary
WATCH: One of the largest student uprisings in Canadian history is marking a milestone. It's been 50 years since the student-led occupation of the computer center at the Sir George Williams University. Global's Tim Sargeant gets a sneak peak of a new play remembering the 1969 riots – Jan 29, 2019

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.

WATCH: In her first feature-length documentary, filmmaker Mina Shum investigates a defining moment in Canadian race relations and student politics

Click to play video: 'Focus Montreal: ‘Ninth Floor’'
Focus Montreal: ‘Ninth Floor’

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.

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“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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Click to play video: 'Black Theatre Workshop introduces kids to serious topics in ‘Bluenose’'
Black Theatre Workshop introduces kids to serious topics in ‘Bluenose’

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.”

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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.

Blackout opens January 30th and runs until February 10th at the D.B. Clarke Theatre at Concordia University.

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