In 1963 Jackson, Mississippi, the stirring of Civil Rights was beginning to rally a nation of long oppressed people. But on a particular street, which is home to a civil rights pioneer, not everyone is pleased to see it begin.
The play is set in the 1960s. At that time, Jackson, MS, was, as many cities in the deep south, a hotbed for segregation and oppression to the thousands of black Americans who lived there. The Civil Rights Movement, famously led by pioneers like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ray Abernathy, and Dorothy Height, brought the injustices persecuted to black and brown people in the south to a national audience. Medgar Evers, a WWII veteran, was the Mississippi Field Secretary for the NAACP. As a leader in the movement in Jackson, Evers led the successful Main Street Boycotts and led protests to desegregate public schools, parks, and the Mississippi Gold Coast Beaches. After being violently murdered outside his home on June 12, 1963, by Ku Klux Klan member Byron De La Beckwith., Evers’s legacy continued through his brother, Charles and wife Myrlie Evers-Williams. Mrs. Evers-Williams served as chairwoman of the NAACP from 1995-1998. Evers’s murder inspired many artists to write songs including Bob Dylan’s Too Many Martyrs and Nina Simone’s Mississippi Goddamn.
The title, a protest song penned by singer and songwriter Nina Simone, “encapsulates the profound turmoil of 1963: the murder of Medgar Evers in Mississippi, the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Alabama, and the attacks by vicious dogs against the non-violent freedom fighters—throughout the South. Nina Simone paints a stark picture of the price paid by many innocent victims as well as courageous fighters on the frontline of the struggle for Civil Rights.”- The Schomburg Center
The Circuit Playhouse welcomes back Jessica Jai Johnson (Sweat) and JS Tate (Sweat) playing the roles of Gertie and Robert. Darious Robertson, (Days of Rage, Sweat) a The Circuit Playhouse stage favorite, returns in the dual role of Jimmie and Civil Rights Movement icon, Medgar Evers. Playhouse on the Square Resident Company Member, Curtis C. Jackson (The Miraculous and the Mundane, Tuck Everlasting) joins the cast as Chuck. Making her The Circuit Playhouse stage debut is Daneka Norfleet, in the dual roles of Claudette and Mrs. Medgar Evers. Josie Chavers (The Toymaker’s Apprentice, Peter Pan), a Playhouse on the Square Department of Theatre Education alumna, plays the role of Robbie.
Lawrence Blackwell also returns to The Circuit Playhouse. Having last worked as the Director of the Playhouse at Home digital series production of Nat Turner in Jerusalem. “Lawrence is an actor’s director,” says Marcus Cox, Playhouse on the Square Director of Community Relations. Cox portrayed Nat Turner in Nat Turner in Jerusalem. “He truly understands how to explain and build relationships between the actors onstage as well as an audience to the show they are experiencing. That type of specificity in a work like Mississippi Goddamn is sure to create a beautiful world for audiences to enjoy.”
Performances will run Thursday through Saturday with an 8:00 pm curtain. Sunday Matinees have a 2:00 pm curtain. The Circuit Playhouse is seating at full capacity and recommending patrons wear masks, as suggested by the Shelby County Health Department. For tickets, call the Box Office at (901) 726-4656 or visit our website www.playhouseonthesquare.org. Follow with social media using #Freedom901. Group rates available.
The play runs May 13 – June 5, 2022.
Special ticket pricing for opening weekend is $27. Pay What You Can performance is Thursday, May 19, 2022.