The artistic directors at the Garry Marshall Theatre in Burbank hope an upcoming play to be presented there will remind audiences that social change can start with anyone.
From Feb. 6 through March 10, the theater will present a production of “The Mountaintop,” a play written by Katori Hall that is a fictional narrative that dives into who Martin Luther King Jr. was as a person and takes place the night before he was assassinated.
“It’s not a literal historic play, a retelling of that story or a biography,” said Dimitri Toscas, co-artistic director at the Garry Marshall Theatre. “The content is historic, but the play is more about his humanity as opposed to his iconic status.”
This year marks the venue’s second season as the Garry Marshall Theatre, and Toscas said he and his colleague, Joseph Bwarie, wanted to select plays that challenged audience members to think about what it means to be a community.
Toscas said they chose “The Mountaintop” because they think the play conveys the message that any person — regardless of their status, location or time period — can have an impact on their community.
“We’re facing the same conflicts today that we have encountered in the past, but for different reasons,” Toscas said. “History has moved forward, but the conversation has stayed the same. We have to constantly address these issues of humanity and what it means to respect and love one another.”
He added that the current young generation does not have a King to stand up for them, but instead people should pick up where the activist left off and carry out his values of humanity through their own lives.
“With social media and having the internet as a platform, everyone has a voice,” Toscas said.
While the Garry Marshall Theatre cannot take a stance on political issues due to its nonprofit status, Toscas said he and his colleague hope that the plays they have chosen for this season will help jump-start conversations.
“This play really revitalizes that idea that you become one point of light in a huge spectrum of history and your point of light matters,” Toscas said. “No matter what your political view, no matter what side of any political spectrum, your religious belief or personal beliefs, his message boils down to everyone wanting the same thing — to be loved, to be respected and to be equal in the eyes of each other.”