Genius Detroit Playwright Premieres “Pipeline” at Detroit Public Theatre

Celebrated playwright Dominique Morisseau hails from Detroit and recently won a 2018 MacArthur Fellowship.

Chuk Nowak

Click on the audio player to listen. CultureShift airs weekdays at 12 p.m. 

Pipeline made its Detroit debut at the Detroit Public Theatre this past weekend.

Written by Detroit playwright and 2018 MacArthur Fellow Dominique Morisseau, Pipeline takes a deep dive into the challenges facing public school systems.

WDET’s Ryan Patrick Hooper speaks with the theatre’s producing artistic director Courtney Burkett and Pipeline director Candis Jones. They discuss turning important issues related to public education, parenting, and race into a compelling theater production.

Pipeline tells the story of Nya—an African American woman trying to protect her son Omari from the harsh realities of the world. Nya enrolls Omari in a private school, but because of an incident at the school he has to leave.

“Nya tries to help with protecting (Omari) from the world and the school system but realizes there’s no place that protects him…being a black young man in America,” explains Jones. “It’s really a poignant story and also very important to tell at this moment in history,” she adds.

For Jones, one of the most exciting things about Pipeline is the way it brings generations together.

“I think that’s really exciting to see a young person’s perspective and a parent’s perspective. It’s something that I don’t see in theaters…across the board nationally,” she says. “By the end (of the play)…it’s very hopeful. I think it helps us to look into the next years and our next generation with a level of hope and understanding.”

Chuk Nowak

According to Burkett, the design team for Pipeline is made up of national and local influences. 

“There’s a lot of local artists who are creating some elements of the design and also national artists who have come in to work with us,” she says. 

“Pipeline” at Detroit Public Theatre is currently being performed at the DSO at 3711 Woodward Avenue in Detroit through November 4th. Tickets and information here.


  • Ryan Patrick Hooper

    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.