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A Zoom Staged Reading of The DePriest Incident by Charles White

Thursday, March 25th
6:15 pm - 9:30 pm

Event Description

Winner of the 2021 Diverse Voices Playwriting Initiative. This event is free and open to the public.

A pre-show conversation with the playwright will begin at 6:15 p.m. If you would like to skip the conversation and just attend the staged reading, join the Zoom meeting by 7:00 p.m.

About the Play

Set in 1929, The DePriest Incident dramatizes an underexplored event in African American political history. Oscar DePriest, an outspoken civil rights advocate, has just been elected to represent Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives—the first Black person to do so in the 20th century. He takes a hard line against racism, pushing for anti-lynching legislation and criticizing politicians who submit to Southern pressure. Oscar’s mind is also set on his wife, Jessie, attending the White House tea party hosted by First Lady Lou Hoover, a courtesy afforded to all Congressional wives. Oscar and his ally, Julia West Hamilton, plan to use Jessie’s White House appearance to send a message about racial equality and drive attendance at an upcoming NAACP fundraiser. However, it is unclear if Jessie will receive an invitation—or if Jessie even wants to go, knowing that she will be ignored and belittled by some of the white women. Through powerful characters and a gripping story, The DePriest Incident stages an important debate about the most effective political strategy for social change.

About the Playwright

Playwright Charles White is a founding member of Harlem Playwrights 21, a not-for-profit playwriting workshop. His play, Succession, was a finalist in the 2018 ScreenCraft Play Competition. Another play, Unentitled, reached the semifinals of the same contest the following year, and The DePriest Incident was a semifinalist in the 2019 Blue Ink Playwriting Award Competition. White has studied under Michael D. Dinwiddie, P.J. Gibson, Laurence Holder, Cassandra Medley, and Richard Wesley at the New Federal Theatre Playwriting Workshop, and is a graduate of Princeton University and NYU Law School.

About the Crossroads Project

The Crossroads Project is an advocacy committee comprising faculty, staff, and students that promotes diversity and inclusion in the School of Theatre and Dance at Illinois State University. In the past, Crossroads has invited established playwrights to ISU to participate in MainStage productions of their work. Recently, Crossroads presented Ga-AD! by Ugandan playwright and director Adong Lucy Judith in 2018 and Delhi-based author Manjula Padmanabhan’s Harvest in 2017.

The Diverse Voices Playwriting Initiative was created to complement these programs by supporting playwrights of color as they develop new work. In addition to providing opportunities for artists from historically underserved groups, the initiative also creates an environment in which students and community members can interact directly with professional theatre artists. The inaugural staged reading took place Fall 2020 with Even Flowers Bloom In Hell, Sometimes by Franky D. Gonzalez.

An email notice will be sent a few days before the event with the Zoom link.

This event is free and open to the public. Please consider making a gift to the Crossroads Project help support the Diverse Voices Playwriting Initiative, as well as other programs that promote diversity and inclusion through the performing arts.

For any questions, contact Kee-Yoon Nahm (knahm@ilstu.edu).

If you will need special accommodations, please contact the event organizer.