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NEW MUSICAL AT BAM: NYCLU Presents “SAFE” — One Day at an Over-policed NYC School


LOCATION: BAM Fisher — Fishman Space
ADDRESS: 321 Ashland Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11217

DATE: June 1


COST: Free


NOTE: Seats for the public are first come, first serve

Press is encouraged to reach out in advance to attend the 3pm performance or to be connected with the Director of NYCLU’s Center for Education Policy, Director Jess McLeod, or students involved in NYCLU’s Teen Activist Project.

NEW YORK, NY – For one day only with two showings on June 1, 2024, The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), in association with BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), presents SAFE — a new musical written and directed by Jess McLeod (HAMILTON, Steppenwolf’s THE THANKSGIVING PLAY), with songs by Brian Quijada (MEXODUS, WHERE DID WE SIT ON THE BUS?), and choreographed by Voltaire Wade-Greene (HAMILTON, ONLY GOLD).

Featuring a powerhouse cast —including Mikayla Bartholomew (KING RICHARD), Jade Jones (VANITIES), Fergie L. Philippe (HAMILTON, THE CONNECTOR) and Futaba Shioda (A TRANSPARENT MUSICAL) — SAFE takes audiences through one day at an overpoliced public school in New York City. While the show is free to the public, a RSVP is required and seats are first come, first served. The NYCLU will host future screenings of the show.

The NYCLU estimates 100,000 students navigate metal detectors every day in New York City schools — the vast majority of them students of color. These scanners rob them of class time and put them at risk for harassment, invasive searches, and fraught interactions with the police. SAFE — which is based on interviews with students from all five boroughs, facilitated by the Public Science Project at the CUNY Graduate Center and NYCLU’s Teen Activist Project — highlights how invasive technology like metal detectors criminalizes students, putting them in potentially dangerous situations with police.

“Decisions about student safety are made for students but not by students, and that needs to change,” said Jess McLeod, director of SAFE and an artist-in-residence at NYCLU through the Creatives Rebuild New York Artist Employment Program.SAFE is our way of giving them the mic to share what safety means to them, what they’re struggling with post-pandemic, and how to turn NYC schools into havens for learning and thriving.”

As our communities grapple with how to keep young people safe and healthy, SAFE pulls from real students’ experiences to remind us that over-policing and surveillance scares, demoralizes, and harms them,” said Johanna Miller, director of the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Center for Education Policy. “It’s easy for adults to take for granted how difficult teens’ lives can be, and to make policy decisions– like criminalizing classrooms– that make getting to school even harder. On the other hand, SAFE highlights what does work for young people– access to supportive adults, counselors, and restorative practices. The New York Civil Liberties Union is thrilled to partner with Jess McLeod, BAM, and this talented team of artists and creatives to challenge audiences’ understandings of what true school safety looks like.”

Book & Direction by Jess McLeod
Songs by Brian Quijada
Choreographed by Voltaire Wade Greene

Executive Producer: Ari Conte
Associate Producer: Cindy Tsai

Music Director: Wes D’Alelio
Set and Props Designer: Emmett Grosland
Costume Designer: Hahnji Jang
Casting by
Gregory Jafari Van Acker
The Casting Collaborative
Bass/Valle Casting

Production Stage Manager: Christine J. Colonna
Assistant Stage Manager: Giselle Andrea Raphaela


Mikayla Bartholomew*
Jade Jones*
Fergie L. Phillipe*
Cristian “Chino” Rodriguez
Kiana Rodriguez
Futaba Shioda*

*Appearing courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association


This production is made possible by the Creatives Rebuild New York Artist Employment Program.

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) advances civil rights and civil liberties so that all New Yorkers can live with dignity, liberty, justice, and equality. Founded in 1951 as the New York state affiliate of the national ACLU, our work is rooted in the unrealized promise of the Bill of Rights and the U.S. and New York State Constitutions. With eight offices across the state and more than 90,000 member-donors, we connect movements across complex issues, informed by our communities and powered by our supporters.

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
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Civil Liberties Union