‘The Peculiar Patriot’ explores love and the criminal justice system at Detroit Public Theatre

Liza Jessie Peterson’s one-woman show is running at the Detroit Public Theatre Feb. 8 through March 5, 2023.

two women smile in front of the WDET logo decorated with red streamers for Valentine's Day

Playwright Liza Jessie Peterson (left) and Detroit Public Theatre artistic director Courtney Burkett in the WDET studios on Feb. 3, 2023.

One of the best theatre companies in the city of Detroit is Detroit Public Theatre. Their new location in the Cass Corridor has already hosted two plays, and this week, they welcome their third.

The Peculiar Patriot” has been described as an important, funny and profound investigative look into America’s criminal justice system. And it’s not a whole cast telling the story. It’s one woman: actress and playwright Liza Jessie Peterson.

orange and gray graphic that reads, "The Peculiar Patriot. Performances at the Detroit Public Theatre February 8th through March 5th. The New York Times calls it, 'A comedy about a tragedy,'"
“The Peculiar Patriot” is showing at the Detroit Public Theatre Feb. 8 through March 5, 2023.

This tour de force solo piece was inspired by Peterson’s extensive work in prisons, including more than 20 years teaching on Rikers Island in New York. “The Peculiar Patriot” opens at DPT on Wednesday, Feb. 8, with every show featuring a limited number of free and discounted tickets for those who’ve been impacted by the justice system.

Peterson and DPT’s producing artistic director, Courtney Burkett, joined CultureShift to talk about the story behind the show and how it seamlessly connects to DPT’s existing Shakespeare in Prison program.

“I knew that this was one of the greatest love stories never told. The artist in me wanted to honor the peculiar patriot to navigate love between barbed wire for their loved ones behind the wall.” — Liza Jessie Peterson, playwright

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  • 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.