Arts & Culture

UK Theatre and Dance explores critical conversations with dramatic comedy 'Fairview', pre-performance panel discussion


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 28, 2024) — The University of Kentucky Department of Theatre and Dance will present Jackie Sibblies Drury’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Fairview," Feb. 29-March 3, in the Briggs Theatre at the UK Fine Arts Building, located at 465 Rose Street.  

The 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Drama winner “Fairview” follows the Fraiser family as they prepare for their grandmother's perfect birthday. But as the perfect party becomes increasingly difficult to pull off, is anything as it seems? This dazzling play — part comedy, part searing satire — is full of surprises. The Pulitzer Committee called it "a hard-hitting drama that examines race in a highly conceptual, layered structure, ultimately bringing audiences into the actors' community to face deep-seated prejudices.” 

“Fairview” is directed by Jeremy Gillett, assistant professor in the department. Gillett is also a playwright, actor and educator and a graduate of the Department of Theatre and Dance. 

“Fairview presents many directorial challenges, but I am confident that I can overcome those challenges because I have a phenomenal cast,” Gillett said. “Identifying them as just ‘actors’ does not fully articulate their talents as thinking, motivated, hardworking, artists.” 

Jackie Sibblies Drury is a Brooklyn-based playwright. Her critically-acclaimed play "Fairview" premiered at Soho Rep. Other plays include "We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia," "Formerly Known as South West Africa," "From the German Sudwestafrika," "Between the Years 1884-1915," "Really," and "Social Creatures." Drury's plays have been presented by New York City Players and Abrons Arts Center, Soho Rep, Victory Gardens, Trinity Rep, Woolly Mammoth, Undermain Theatre, InterAct Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Company One and The Bush Theatre in London, among others. Her work has been developed at The Bellagio Center, Sundance, The Ground Floor, Manhattan Theatre Club, Ars Nova, A.C.T., The Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, NYTW, PRELUDE, The Bushwick Starr,and The MacDowell Colony. Drury is a NYTW Usual Suspect, a United States Artists Gracie Fellow, has received a Van Lier Fellowship at New Dramatists, a Jerome Fellowship at The LARK, a Windham-Campbell Literary Prize in Drama, and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. 

Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 29, through Saturday, March 2; and at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 2 and Sunday, March 3. Reserved Seating. Tickets are available by visiting the Singletary Center for the Arts at or by calling the box office at 859-257-4929. Tickets are $20 for adults and $13 for students. 

Pre-Performance Talk 

In addition to “Fairview,” audiences are invited to a panel discussion at 6 p.m. Friday, March 1, preceding that evening’s performance. This academic forum will offer a guided conversation to unpack and explore critical issues in the play. 

The pre-performance discussion will be held in the UK Art Museum. Admission is free, but registration is required

‘Fairview’ creates an observable storyline that challenges the audience to digest through their shared theatrical experience the Fraiser family’s and therefore society’s understanding of racial roles and daily encounters,” explains Gillett. “White gaze views certain behaviors and characteristics as inherent to different racial groups and consciously and unconsciously impacts the characters in the play, helping the audience to understand the effect in our own lives as well.” 

The panel discussion will expound on themes in “Fairview” and help to address the meaning of the white gaze and how it impacts the Black community. How does the white gaze impact the relationship between the white gazer and the Black person being gazed upon? But more directly: what steps can community members take to be in a healthy relationship with one another? 

Panelists for the discussion include: 

  • Aria S. Halliday, associate professor in Gender and Women's Studies and African American and Africana Studies in the UK College of Arts and Sciences; 
  • Rev. Kory Wilcoxson, senior pastor of Crestwood Christian Church in Lexington; 
  • Devine Carama, director of ONE Lexington; and 
  • Kylah Spring, UK student and founder of the Spirit and Grace Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Black women at a collegiate level. 

Gillett will serve as moderator. 

Aria S. Halliday is associate professor of gender and women's studies and African American and Africana studies at the University of Kentucky. Her research examines representations of Black women and girls in the U.S. and Caribbean. She is editor of "The Black Girlhood Studies Collection" (2019) and author of "Buy Black: How Black Women Transformed U.S. Pop Culture" (2022). Her article, “Twerk Sumn!: Theorizing Black Girl Epistemology in the Body,” won the 2022 Cultural Studies x Stuart Hall Foundation award. She teaches courses on popular culture, consumerism, hip-hop and contemporary feminism. 

Rev. Kory Wilcoxson is the senior pastor of Crestwood Christian Church in Lexington, serving this congregation on the south side of Lexington for the past 14 years. Prior to moving to Lexington, he served for 12 years as a pastor in the Chicago and Indianapolis areas. Born and raised in Jeffersonville, Indiana, Wilcoxson previously worked as a journalist, writing for the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Jeffersonville Evening News, and as a college lecturer at Ohio University and Indiana University Southeast. Wilcoxson holds a bachelor's degree in communication from Indiana University, a master's degree in communication from Ohio University and a master's degree in divinity from Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, and a doctorate in ministry from Lexington Theological Seminary. 

Devine Carama is a nationally renowned, 2022 Emmy Award-winning hip-hop artist, educator, community activist and motivational speaker from Lexington. He was most recently featured on "Good Morning America" and the "Jennifer Hudson Show" after a video of him teaching emotional intelligence to young boys went viral. He is the new director of the mayor of Lexington's youth gun violence reduction program, ONE Lexington, which has launched several new initiatives in its first two years under his direction. Carama is also the founder and director of a youth-focused non-profit organization called Believing In Forever, Inc. 

Kylah Spring is a Memphis, Tennessee native and student at the University of Kentucky. During her time at UK, she found her community in UK's Black Voices Gospel Choir. During her first semester, Spring was racially assaulted. This traumatic experience inspired her to create the Spirit and Grace Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Black women at a collegiate level. The organization provides mentorship, career development and mental health resources to empower Black women to succeed academically, emotionally and socially. Spring is currently a dance teacher in Memphis and pursuing her dreams of becoming a professional dance and theater artist. 

“Fairview” was originally commissioned and presented by Soho Rep, New York, NY. (Sarah Benson, artistic director; Cynthia Flowers, executive director) and Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Berkeley, CA (Tony Taccone, artistic director; Susan Medak, managing director).

The Department of Theatre and Dance, part of the UK College of Fine Arts, is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Theatre. Students in the department get hands-on training and one-on-one mentorship from professional faculty and renowned guest artists in acting, dance, directing, playwriting, theatrical design and technology. From mainstage productions to student-produced shows, students have opportunities to participate on stage or backstage. 

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.