Eastern Michigan University Theatre presents a rhythmic journey about a present-day hero’s quest to rewrite history's wrongs ("Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea")

A play honoring West African Yoruba culture

Dreamlike artwork for Dontrell, who kissed the sea

YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University Theatre presents a Nathan Alan Davis production, “Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea,” at the Legacy Theatre in the Judy Sturgis Hill Building at 1030 E. Circle Drive in Ypsilanti. Performances will occur on Feb. 15 -17 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 17 and Feb. 18 at 2 p.m., one weekend only. 

The play centers around 18-year-old Dontrell Jones III, who wakes up from a dream convinced he needs to journey to the ocean to connect with his long-lost ancestors, who were captured Africans during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Instead of college, Jones begins a voyage to the Atlantic Ocean in search of his family's ancestry. The production skillfully weaves together various elements, prominently featuring African dance deeply rooted in Yoruba culture, an ethnic group from West Africa. Central to the narrative is the respect for Yemayá, also known as Yemọja, the of all orishas within the Yoruba religion.

EMU professor and production director Wallace Bridges said he’s encouraged to connect with his distant ancestors after a recent visit to Ghana, Africa. “Jones’ search for his ancestors is very relevant in today’s society since many people are interested in learning more about their families’ ancestry,” said Bridges. “This goal is extremely important to Americans of African descent since the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade had erased much of their history.”

A preview performance, which features a feedback session, is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 15, before the official opening on Friday. This performance is geared toward EMU students, staff, and faculty. 

The play was produced by a special arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc.

“Regardless of their religious, ethnic or racial background, attendees should leave the production with an appreciation for how important it is to connect to one’s ancestors and family history,” said Bridges. They may also be encouraged to  interview and record family stories to be shared with future generations.”

Ticket prices for “Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea” are $12 for students, $15 for seniors, and $20 for regular admission. Tickets may be purchased online at emich.ludus.com, by phone at (734) 487-2282, or in person at the EMU ticket office in Judy Sturgis Hill. 

Parking on EMU’s campus is available through LAZ Parking for a fee. Weekend performance parking is available in the Alexander Pay Lot, Ford Commuter and Staff Lots. Non-EMU guests attending Thursday’s preview performance should park in the Alexander Pay Lot. Those with an EMU parking permit may park accordingly. Visit the Park EMU website for more details about parking on campus.

For more information about EMU Theatre, the season, and directions to the theater, visit the EMU Theatre website

About Eastern Michigan UniversityFounded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 13,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

February 05, 2024

Written by:
Media Relations

Media Contact:
Brittany Mobley