In the late 2000s, Detroit faced a significant decline after three major car manufacturers in the city experienced massive losses, leading to job cuts and economic instability. Playwright Dominique Morisseau, who was born and raised in Detroit, witnessed the impact of this decline on her friends and family members. She saw people being afraid, anxious, frustrated, and heartbroken as they lost their jobs and livelihoods.

Morisseau’s Tony award-winning play, Skeleton Crew, is a reflection of the struggles faced by the working-class citizens of Detroit during this difficult time. Directed by Matthew Xia, the play sheds light on the challenges and hardships experienced by the people of Detroit. Morisseau, who now lives in Los Angeles, believes that her work is a form of activism and a way to change the narrative of Detroit.

Inspired by August Wilson’s The Pittsburgh Cycle, Skeleton Crew is part of Morisseau’s three-play series called The Detroit Project. The play, set during the 2008 recession, highlights the resilience and strength of the people in Detroit. Morisseau hopes that her plays will resonate with audiences from all backgrounds and encourage conversations about the issues faced by working-class communities.

In addition to her work as a playwright, Morisseau has been involved in initiatives to make theater more inclusive and welcoming to all. She encourages attendees to engage with her work and laugh audibly during performances by handing out “Rules of Engagement” flyers. This initiative aims to create a comfortable and engaging experience for all theatergoers.

Despite the challenges faced by Detroit, Morisseau has noticed positive changes in the city, including the resurgence of businesses and a shift in perceptions about the working class. She believes that plays like Skeleton Crew can change the narrative of America’s Rust Belt and challenge stereotypes about the working class.

Looking ahead, Morisseau is working on new projects that explore different themes and communities. Her play Bad Kreyol, set in Haiti, will premiere in New York, while she is also writing a play about DJs in the Bronx. For Morisseau, the process of creating these plays is a victory in itself, as it allows her to capture the stories and experiences of diverse communities.

Overall, Morisseau’s work reflects her commitment to storytelling and activism, as she continues to shine a light on the struggles and triumphs of working-class communities in Detroit and beyond. Skeleton Crew is currently showing at the Donmar Warehouse in London until 24 August, offering audiences a glimpse into the resilience and strength of the people of Detroit.