THEATER | DANCE | CLASSICAL MUSIC | OPERA | COMEDY

NORTH TEXAS PERFORMING ARTS NEWS

REVIEWS

<em>The Face of Emmett Till</em>

Review: The Face of Emmett Till | Bishop Arts Theatre Center


Revisiting Emmett

Bishop Arts Theatre Center brings back The Face of Emmett Till, with some changes that are not always satisfying.



published Friday, April 21, 2017

Photo: BATC
The Face of Emmett Till

Dallas — A few years ago, TeCo Productions opened its 2015-2016 season with The Face of Emmett Till, written by Mamie Till-Mobley and David Barr III and directed by Ruth Cantrell. It was a play in two acts with an intermission. The first act recounted the days leading up to Emmett Till’s murder and the days immediately following. The second act focused on the trial and the legal backstory.

 

The story of this murder is once again onstage at the Bishop Arts Theatre Center and again under the direction of Ruth Cantrell. This time however, there are changes, beginning with the play itself. This production is in one act. Following a brief intermission, the second half of the program is announced as a talkback that on the evening of this review, was with the playwright. This iteration of the play assumes an audience with prior knowledge of details surrounding the story of Emmett Till. It is a hopeful assumption that leaves it to the audience to fill in the unexplained spaces.

The story is still told in flashback, beginning in Montgomery, Alabama, as Mamie Till-Mobley (Lydia Brown) and Morris Dees (Zachary Valdez) wait for her cue to deliver a speech. Following this scene is a fuzzy time shift. The play action occurs in different locations—a courtroom, a residential living room, a police station and a funeral home. All of this takes place on the same set and with actors in the same costumes. To help with transitions in the narrative, screen projections are used to establish place. Costume add-ons help establish time of day.

NAACP leader Roy Wilkins is played by Alvis R. Lewis. Keon Jones is Rayner.

The role of Emmett Till is again played by Justus L. Clark. We meet great-uncle Reverend Mose Wright (Tony Key), Mamie’s mother, Alma Spearman (Kenja Brown), and her step-father Henry Spearman (Randy Aguebor). A conversation reveals a split within the family regarding whether Emmett should spend a few summer weeks with in Money, Mississippi with his relatives. Some family members were in favor, others felt uneasy. Eventually Mamie acquiesces and allows Emmett to visit and spend time with his cousin Maurice (Albert Wash II).

One day while playing around outside Bryant’s Grocery Store, trouble happened. Caroline Bryant (Caroline Cole), the grocer’s wife, accused Emmett of whistling at her. This was a punishable offense during 1950s Jim Crow Mississippi, one that in this case was met with death, the terroristic murder of Emmett by vigilantes. An attempt was made to conceal the viciousness of the killing but Mamie insisted on seeing the corpse. Upon seeing what remained of her son, she decided to have an open-casket funeral so that the world could see the carnage and through that, know what was happening to black people in Mississippi.

The scene with Emmett and his accuser, Caroline Bryant, and Maurice, is one of the most coherent. The action is moved downstage and flattened, which works well for that moment.  

This cast has a secure handle on their lines and their characters. However, the pace of the performance reviewed was dreadfully slow. This partly results from a sequential and sometimes stereotypical delivery of lines as opposed to a construction of dialogue.

In some ways this production is even more labored than the 2015 production. Awkwardness within the revised script is compounded by perplexing directorial decisions that leave the production with a sense of disorganization. This presentation resembles a staged reading with movement more than a fully-fleshed out play. In resizing the script from two acts to one, some of the essential characters are less clearly defined.

Mamie Till-Mobley could not have known that the murder of her young son would fuel the modern civil rights movement, but that is what happened. She dedicated her life toward ensuring that the story of Emmett Till avoid the graveyard of so many atrocities lost through their omission from historical texts. Retelling the story of Emmett Till is important. So is the manner of its retelling. Thanks For Reading





Dates, Prices, & Other Details

View the Article Slideshow

Comment on this Article

Share this article on Social Media
Click or Swipe to close
Revisiting Emmett
Bishop Arts Theatre Center brings back The Face of Emmett Till, with some changes that are not always satisfying.
by Janice L. Franklin

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
Click or Swipe to close
reviews
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
audiocasts
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
contests
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
crowdfunding
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
studio
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web



Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:


Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:


TheaterJones Section:


Category:
Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Search
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  



Your Name:
Your Email Adress:


please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :
Submit