With the political rise of Barack Obama in 2007, playwright Lydia Diamond, whose works focus on the social nuances of race, found herself trying to write a play about race in real time. The resulting drama, “Smart People,” will be presented by East Stroudsburg University’s Department of Theatre on Thursday through March 1 in the Dale Snow Theatre of the university’s Fine and Performing Arts Center, Normal and Marguerite streets, East Stroudsburg.


Set before Obama’s first election, the play centers around the relationship of four of Harvard University’s brightest: a surgeon, an actress, a psychologist, and a neuroscientist. The characters invite each other (and thereby the audience) to consider different aspects of the brain, particularly how it responds to race and gender. Like all smart people, they are also searching for love, success and identity in their own lives.


The play examines the challenges that intelligent people of color face to be successful in the face of systemic privilege and prejudice. The drama invites the viewer into the topic of race — sometimes challenging in mixed company — with a lot of humor and a clear view to the human strengths and fallibilities of all involved. It also prompts discussion of these critical issues without being judgmental.


Participating students include: Tamir Cousins-Ali of East Stroudsburg; Deijah Faulkner of Long Island, New York; Maggie Jackson of Carlisle; and Daniel Michel of West Grove.


Other actors in the play include: Marcell McKenzie, Kunkletown; Shalaine Thomas, Silver Spring, Maryland; and Aja Padovan, East Stroudsburg.


The production team includes: Christopher Domanski, associate professor of theater as scenic and lighting designer; Andre Austin, Philadelphia; Kevin Hsiao, Montrose, Tamir Cousins-Ali as sound designer.


This play is recommended for mature high school students and adults. There is some suggested sexual content though it is only heard and not witnessed.


After each performance, there will be an optional, short, facilitated discussion lead by members of ESU’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which includes staff, students and faculty.


Because of the intimate nature of the Dale Snow Theatre, advanced reservations are suggested. To make a reservation or for information, email esuarts@esu.edu.