Oakland Playwright Cleavon Smith Takes on Police Violence, Theories of Social Change in 'The Incrementalist'

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Playwright Cleavon Smith's latest work "The Incrementalist" is at Berkeley's Aurora Theatre Company through May 15, 2022. (Courtesy of Aurora Theatre)

In his latest play, "The Incrementalist," Oakland playwright Cleavon Smith explores the tension between those who advocate immediate, radical reform to address injustices and those who believe in an incremental approach to changing systems and policies over time. Playing at Berkeley's Aurora Theatre Company through May 15, "The Incrementalist" follows a public intellectual who is brought to UC Berkeley’s campus in 2022 to help facilitate conversations concerning police violence after campus police attack and injure a Black Student Union leader during a protest. The play also includes scenes from student life in 1992, highlighting both the ongoing issues of racism and police violence and the ongoing debate over how best to address them. Smith joins Forum in studio to talk about the play, as well as his personal journey from Mississippian to Californian and from naval officer to playwright.


Cleavon Smith, playwright, "The Incrementalist," Aurora Theatre Company. "The Incrementalist" is playing through May 15 at Aurora Theatre Company in Berkeley.