Professor Joyce Antler:

"Julian Seltzer and Amanda Jane Stern took my class on History as Theater as a freshmen.  Now seniors, they wrote a wonderful documentary play, Coerced, which was performed at the Brandeis theater festival.  The play, accompanied by Julian's essay on documentary theater, was  Julian's honors thesis."

A 'Coerced' Confession And Its Aftermath, Onstage

See the feature article on the play at TheARTery, 90.9 wbur.

A Teenager's Coerced Confession Gets Retold Onstage

Hear a radio interview with directors Seltzer and Stern


Coerced - A Documentary Play

Co-written by Julian Seltzer and Amanda Jane Stern. Their play is part of Seltzer's senior honor's thesis, advised by Professor Joyce Antler.

When "Coerced" received its first public performances on April 23 and 26, it signaled much more than the completion of a school assignment. This documentary play — all of its dialogue is taken from real-life sources — reflects deep research into the case of Nga Truong, the grieving Worcester 16-year-old who was prompted by an intense interrogation to ‘admit’ to a horrific crime—one that all involved now concede she didn’t actually commit. The crime? Causing the sudden death of her 13-month-old baby boy by smothering him.

Author's Statement

This play tells the true story of Nga Truong. We first learned of Nga’s case in our freshman year, and immediately felt that it needed to be turned into a documentary play.

In a documentary play all words spoken onstage are taken directly from historical and legal records, interviews, news articles (including radio coverage), etc... To create this play we combined interviews we conducted with pre-existing documentary materials.

This is not the lifetime version of the play. All spoken dialogue is taken directly from the historical sources.

Julian Seltzer & Amanda Jane Stern

Brief Synopsis

Worcester, Massachusetts, 2008: After almost 3-hours of an illegal interrogation, 16- year-old Nga Truong admitted to killing her 13-month-old son. This play is the true story of her confession, her time in prison, and the national outrage the story brought to the Worcester Police Department. In this original documentary play, all the dialogue is taken from the historical record.

Coerced

JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY: Sumner Alperin-Lea '18 as WBUR Journalist David Boeri sits alone at his news desk.

Coerced

ALONE IN THE DARK: Christine Kim '17 portrays Nga Truong, a 16-year-old girl who was illegally interrogated for almost 3-hours by two Worcester Police Officers.

Coerced

LAWYER INTERVENES: Attorney Ed Ryan (portrayed by Dylan Hoffman '18 ) explains the legal issues with the interrogation of Nga Truong (as seen left) to WBUR journalist David Boeri (portrayed by Sumner Alperin-Lea '18).

Coerced

RUSH TO INJUSTICE: LEFT—Worcester Police Sergeant Kevin Pageau (portrayed by Ben Gold '13) and Detective John Doherty (portrayed by Ryan Mouton '17) interrogate Nga Truong (portrayed by Christine Kim '17) about the alleged murder of her son. RIGHT—Attorney Ed Ryan (portrayed by Dylan Hoffman '18 ) and WBUR journalist David Boeri (portrayed by Sumner Alperin-Lea '18) watch this flashback of the interrogation.

Coerced

BROKEN DOWN: Nga Truong (portrayed by Christine Kim '17) becomes hopeless as her interrogation by Worcester Police Sergeant Kevin Pageau (portrayed by Ben Gold '13) and Detective John Doherty (portrayed by Ryan Mouton '17) becomes more confrontational.

Coerced

JUDGEMENT RENDERED: A voice of reason in the courtroom, Judge Janet Kenton-Walker (portrayed by Tova Weinberger '18) scowls while listening to the testimony of an unreliable witness.

Coerced

COURTROOM HERO: LEFT—Attorney Ed Ryan (portrayed by Dylan Hoffman '18) delivers an opening statement to Judge Janet Kenton-Walker (portrayed by Tova Weinberger '18)  during the hearing to suppress the alleged confession of his client Nga Truong. RIGHT— Nga Truong (portrayed by Christine Kim '17) is interrogated by Worcester Police Sergeant Kevin Pageau (portrayed by Ben Gold '13) and Detective John Doherty (portrayed by Ryan Mouton '17).

Coerced

POST-SHOW MEETING: After spending 3 years writing and researching,Coerced's playwrights Julian Seltzer ('15) and Amanda Jane Stern ('15) finally met Nga Truong.

Coerced

TEAM TRUONG: The playwrights stand amongst their dramatic subjects: (From LEFT to RIGHT) WBUR Senior Reporter David Boeri, Julian Seltzer ('15), Nga Truong, Amanda Jane Stern ('15), and Attorney Edward Ryan.

Coerced

SIDE-BY-SIDE: Brandeis sophomore Christine Kim portrayed Nga Truong in Coerced. Here, Kim (left) stands with Truong (right) after meeting her for the first time, following the Sunday, April 26th performance of 'Coerced.'

Coerced

THE VOICE OF RADIO: WBUR Senior Reporter David Boeri was portrayed in Coerced.Here, he stands between the two playwrights: Julian Seltzer ('15) and Amanda Jane Stern ('15).