The Blog- The Conversation Starts Here!

  • Taking a Bow. Next Stop: Steppenwolf Theatre Company

    Taking a Bow. Next Stop: Steppenwolf Theatre Company

    Participants of the World Premiere Conversation of Byhalia, Mississippi by Evan Linder: TAKE A BOW. Over 6,000 Audience Members  8 Theatre Companies 7 North American Cities 4 Full Productions 3 Staged Readings 1 CONVERSATION Next Stop for Byhalia, Mississippi A direct transfer of the Chicago production to Steppenwolf Theatre Company opening July 22, 2016 Read More About it Here!  <<What a ... Read MoreRead More »
  • What a Week! Closings in Two Cities and our World Premiere Conversation

    What a Week! Closings in Two Cities and our World Premiere Conversation

     CLOSINGS ACROSS THE COUNTRY In the past week, we set the good ol’ U.S.A. on fire! We hosted the first ever world premiere conversation, connecting six creative teams across the country in a first-of-its-kind digital conversation, and celebrated the closing nights of two fantastic productions of “Byhalia, Mississippi.” Check out photos of the casts and recaps of the journeys of the Toronto and Charleston ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Tonight! The First Ever World Premiere Conversation!

    Tonight! The First Ever World Premiere Conversation!

    January 18th, 2016 Tonight, the World Premiere Conversation is finally here! Over the past 10 days, over 2800 people in 7 North American Cities have been in the audience for the World Premieres of Byhalia, Mississippi by Evan Linder Our World Premiere Conversation will finally launch tonight at 7PM Central (8PM Eastern) CLICK HERE TO JOIN IT! World Premiere Conversation Hosted by Tyrone ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Sneak Peek Sunday – Chicago Trailer #2 – Evan Linder & Liz Sharpe

    Sneak Peek Sunday – Chicago Trailer #2 – Evan Linder & Liz Sharpe

    Chicago Byhalia, Mississippi Production Trailer #2- by Richard Edward III featuring Evan Linder & Liz Sharpe Itching to see a scene from Byhalia, Mississippi? Check out the below cut from our Chicago production featuring Evan Linder and Liz Sharpe as Jim and Laurel, the young, working-class couple preparing for the birth of a baby. Talented filmmaker Richard Edward III lends his talents to capture the young ... Read MoreRead More »
  • More Pins on the Map; Birmingham and Boulder Tonight!

    More Pins on the Map; Birmingham and Boulder Tonight!

    January 16th, 2016 Tonight, our friends in Alabama and Colorado are extending the Conversation into two new states with staged readings and we couldn’t be more excited to hear how their audiences and communities have to say. Among the several Southern companies contributing to the conversation, Theatre Downtown has an exciting cast and team and we wish we could be there ... Read MoreRead More »
  • The Journey to Byhalia, Mississippi: Part Two

    The Journey to Byhalia, Mississippi: Part Two

    Last week, Tyrone Phillips and Evan Linder both took time to detail the experience of their day trip to Byhalia, MS on December 23rd. Evan’s story is here in Part One. Part Two is Tyrone’s story: The Journey to Byhalia, Mississippi: Part Two by Tyrone Phillips January 6th, 2016 s this how my life will come to an end? That was one of ... Read MoreRead More »
  • The Journey to Byhalia, Mississippi: Part One

    The Journey to Byhalia, Mississippi: Part One

    On January 13th, playwright Evan Linder and Chicago director Tyrone Phillips were able to go to a talkback at Playhouse on the Square in Memphis for Byhalia, Mississippi. The packed Wednesday night house was incredibly responsive and stayed for almost an hour after curtain call discussing the story, the characters, the choices they made and what the play meant to their community. The ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Reading Tonight in LA with Sixth Avenue! What a cast!

    Reading Tonight in LA with Sixth Avenue! What a cast!

    January 12th, 2016 TONIGHT ONLY with SIXTH AVENUE in LA! Our Staged Readings for Byhalia, Mississippi kick off tonight with LA! We’re excited for the West Coast to join the CONVERSATION with us. And if you didn’t get a chance to see Chicago playwright Ike Holter‘s Hit the Wall  in Sixth Avenue’s sold-out, critically acclaimed production, there are a few ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Chicago Opens Tonight!

    Chicago Opens Tonight!

    The New Colony and Definition Theatre Company’s production of Byhalia, Mississippi opens tonight! Our World Premiere Conversation is now well underway! Stay tuned tomorrow to hear about the amazing L.A. cast who will be reading “Byhalia, Mississippi” with Sixth Avenue at Akbar! Thanks to everyone who has come out to support our opening weekends! Thanks for getting the conversation started. We can’t ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Sneak Peek Sunday – Trailer by Richard Edward III

    Sneak Peek Sunday – Trailer by Richard Edward III

    Chicago Byhalia, Mississippi Production Trailer Chicago has a trailer! If you’ve been considering seeing one of the four full productions of “Byhalia, Mississippi,” check out the amazing trailer made by a truly talented filmmaker that features our Chicago cast in rehearsals. Richard Edward III is the Executive Film Producer of WPCONVO participant Definition Theatre Company and is founder and Chief Executive Officer of the award-winning definition STUDIOS. ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Soundtrack Saturday #5: Otis Taylor

    Soundtrack Saturday #5: Otis Taylor

    Our play Byhalia, Mississippi is open in four cities near you! Have a listen to the below tune while you’re grabbing your tickets or driving to a near-by theatre to see the show. “LIVE YOUR LIFE” Otis Taylor is a talented American blues musician, having mastered the guitar, banjo, mandolin, and harmonica. He also leads the vocals on his songs with a rich, bartione voice. ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Byhalia, Mississippi’s Four World Premieres Open NOW!

    Byhalia, Mississippi’s Four World Premieres Open NOW!

    January 8th, 2016 HERE WE GO! Byhalia, Mississippi by Evan Linder The play will open tonight in World Premiere Productions in Four North American Cities. Here are the twenty actors (and two photobombing directors) originating these roles tonight. Next week, there will be staged readings in Los Angeles, Boulder and Birmingham.  Let’s all go to the theatre.  Then let’s have ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Toronto: The First Audience

    Toronto: The First Audience

    It is Opening Weekend Director Jill Harper talks about traveling to a very special first audience to preview Toronto’s Byhalia, Mississippi. January 6th, 2016 Today 50 students from all different backgrounds watched Byhalia Mississippi. Then they talked to us about race, fidelity and forgiveness, as well as what they loved about the piece of theatre they had just seen. About half ... Read MoreRead More »
  • A Conversation is Happening about our Conversation

    A Conversation is Happening about our Conversation

    January 6th, 2016 It’s All Happening We are two days away from audiences in four cities attending full productions of Byhalia, Mississippi by Evan Linder before starting a conversation that includes seven cities and eight theatre companies. People are already talking about what we have cooked up too! Check out our new Press Page as well! Updated: January 17th   PREVIEW: American Theatre ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Modern Romance: Introducing… the Jim and Laurels

    Modern Romance: Introducing… the Jim and Laurels

    Behold, in all their foul-mouthed glory, Jim and Laurel. Or Jims and Laurels rather. These eight actors will be originating the roles of these star-crossed lovers opening in four simultaneous productions across the continent this Friday. And stay tuned to meet the other characters from these productions as well as the casts of the staged readings in Los Angeles, Boulder and ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Pushing the Klan Aside in Mississippi: My Memory of Alfred Skip Robinson

    Pushing the Klan Aside in Mississippi: My Memory of Alfred Skip Robinson

    BY DR. AKINYELE UMOJA, CHAIR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDIES, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY Dr. Akinyele Umoja, Professor and Department Chair of the Department of African-American Studies at Georgia State University, brings us a reflection on his time with Alfred “Skip” Robinson who WPCONVO has covered here and here. A scholar of the Civil Rights Movement, African religion and philosophy, and 19th ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Sneak Peek Sunday: October 7, 2014 – Julian Parker

    Sneak Peek Sunday: October 7, 2014 – Julian Parker

    October 7th, 2014 Reading of Byhalia, Mississippi in Chicago Here’s another stand-out scene from the 2014 reading at the Dank Haus in Chicago featuring the talented Julian Parker. Julian appears as Karl below along with playwright Evan Linder as Jim. Julian is a founding member of WPCONVO participant Definition Theatre Company along with Chicago’s Byhalia, Mississippi director Tyrone Phillips. Julian is an accomplished actor of stage ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Soundtrack Saturday #4: Garrison Starr

    Soundtrack Saturday #4: Garrison Starr

    Happy New Year! There’s no better way to welcome a new year than with a new play. “BYHALIA ROAD” Byhalia Road is an extension of MS Highway 309 that cuts through Byhalia, Mississippi, the setting and title of our play. It’s also a must-hear song by singer-songwriter Garrison Starr off her album The Girl That Killed September. A Hernando, Mississippi native, Starr has released seven ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Alfred ‘Skip’ Robinson and Mississippi in the 1970’s

    Alfred ‘Skip’ Robinson and Mississippi in the 1970’s

      The character of Ayesha in Byhalia, Mississippi is extremely proud of her father-in-law Quincy for his participation in the protests in Byhalia in 1974. Detailed in our previous post The Once and Future Mississippi by Donald J Simon, these protests and the ensuing boycott of Byhalia businesses were led by Alfred ‘Skip’ Robinson, founder of the United League of ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Sneak Peek Sunday(ish): October 7th, 2014- Daeshawna Cook

    Sneak Peek Sunday(ish): October 7th, 2014- Daeshawna Cook

    October 7th, 2014 Reading of Byhalia, Mississippi in Chicago The blog catch-up continues with our Sneak Peek Sunday(ish). The following scene between Laurel and Ayesha was performed by Liz Sharpe (Chicago’s Laurel) and Daeshawna Cook. Daeshawna was the first actor to breathe life into Ayesha after Evan decided to scrap Byhalia‘s Act II and start over with a new character. Daeshawna has been seen at ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Soundtrack Saturday(ish) #3: Lucinda Williams

    Soundtrack Saturday(ish) #3: Lucinda Williams

    Holiday Break is over and we are barreling on through the final few weeks of rehearsal! “RUBBER ON GRAVEL” This phrase is used ten times in Byhalia, Mississippi either by the characters or in Evan’s stage directions. This sound cue is used to announce an arrival to Jim and Laurel’s house, or sometimes as a cause for celebration when a houseguest who ... Read MoreRead More »
  • The House That John Wilson Built

    The House That John Wilson Built

    Set Model: Byhalia, Mississippi (Chicago) by John Wilson   John Wilson: Chicago Set Designer John Wilson has designed more than 100 sets for Chicago stages over the past decade. A native Texan, John was fairly certain he knew what Jim and Laurel’s house looked like during his first conversations with Definition and The New Colony in Chicago.  At the end of the evening, ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Sneak Peek Sunday: LeapFest, July 2015

    Sneak Peek Sunday: LeapFest, July 2015

    Sneak Peek Sunday is continuing to look back at some of the great artists who have contributed their talents and time to the play we are unleashing this January. This past summer, these five incredible actors began to fully breathe life into Byhalia, Mississippi at Stage Left’s LeapFest XII in Chicago. This opportunity to stage a workshop production for three performances ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Soundtrack Saturday #2: Real Deal Woman by Samantha Church

    Soundtrack Saturday #2: Real Deal Woman by Samantha Church

    Real Deal Woman by Samantha Church Samantha Church is a singer and songwriter currently living in Charleston, SC, home to WPConvo participant Village Repertory Co. Her voice is soulful. Her banjo is powerful. Her lyrics make us blush. We couldn’t think of a better song to introduce the women of Byhalia, Mississippi.             album art ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Village Rep’s Keely Enright introduces Charleston & its Cast

    Village Rep’s Keely Enright introduces Charleston & its Cast

    Keely Enright, Producing Artistic Director of The Village Repertory Co.    It is hard to believe that it was April of this year when we first began talks with Evan Linder about co-premiering this new work. Let me repeat that because it is kind of eerie to me. We began making plans in April of 2015 before the fatal shooting ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Memphis: An Interview with the cast of Byhalia, Mississippi

    Memphis: An Interview with the cast of Byhalia, Mississippi

      Jordan Nichols, Director of New Works at Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, sat down with some of the cast and crew of Byhalia, Mississippi to find out their thoughts on the rehearsal process and discoveries the cast had made thus far from working on the script.Read More »
  • Toronto: Cue6’s Jill Harper discusses their First Read

    Toronto: Cue6’s Jill Harper discusses their First Read

    By Jill Harper, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Cue6 Theatre in TorontoRead More »
  • Sneak Peek Sunday: September 7th, 2014

    Sneak Peek Sunday: September 7th, 2014

    In our very first Sneak Peek Sunday, we are going WAY back. A selection from Act I, Scene 1 from the very first public reading of Byhalia, Mississippi held in the Memphian Room at Circuit Playhouse in Memphis, TN on September 7th, 2014. Byhalia, Mississippi by Evan Linder Laurel’s mother Celeste is livid after being told to drive back home to Jackson, which ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Soundtrack Saturday #1: Mississippi Goddam by Nina Simone

    Soundtrack Saturday #1: Mississippi Goddam by Nina Simone

    Mississippi Goddam by Nina Simone On Saturdays over the next month and a half, we will be sharing songs that are playing in our rehearsal rooms as seven casts prepare for the World Premiere Conversation of Byhalia, Mississippi in seven cities. It seemed only appropriate to start with Nina. There was never any question, really. Start your Saturday off right by clicking below. ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Rehearsals Spanning Thousands of Miles

    Rehearsals Spanning Thousands of Miles

    REHEARSALS ARE UNDERWAY! Next week, our blog will start talking with the creative teams at rehearsals around the country! We will hear about the first table reads, hear interviews with actors and directors, see the initial concepts from some of our designers and learn even more about Byhalia and the 1974 boycotts led by Alfred “Skip” Robinson. Until then, here are ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Meet The Companies: Staged Readings

    Meet The Companies: Staged Readings

    After four cities open productions of Byhalia, Mississippi on January 8th, three additional cities will be doing staged readings of the play for one night only in Los Angeles, Birmingham and Boulder LET’S MEET THEM!Read More »
  • The Once and Future Mississippi by Donald J Simon

    The Once and Future Mississippi by Donald J Simon

    In 1974, Donald J Simon was a junior at Harvard University working as a summer reporter for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. He was assigned to cover the brewing tensions in Byhalia sparked by the killing of 21-year-old Butler Young Jr. by a police officer. The United League of Marshall County, founded and led by Alfred “Skip” Robinson, began a ... Read MoreRead More »
  • Meet The Companies: Full Productions

    Meet The Companies: Full Productions

    Four Cities, Five Theatre Companies, All doing Full Productions of Byhalia, Mississippi opening January 8th: LET’S MEET THEM!Read More »
  • A Tour of the Town of Byhalia

    A Tour of the Town of Byhalia

    The town of bye-HAIL-yuh Let’s say it together y’all. bye. HAIL. yuh.  And yes…some from the area just like to ignore that pesky L.Read More »
  • WHAT IS A WORLD PREMIERE CONVERSATION?

    WHAT IS A WORLD PREMIERE CONVERSATION?

    by Tyrone Phillips and Andrew Hobgood A World Premiere Conversation is: There is still a lot to discover. Our hope is that wpconvo.com does on a larger scale what we always want to do with every new play we produce: Get a conversation started. Get people excited. Connect with our audiences and connect them to each other. We can’t wait to show you ... Read MoreRead More »

Participating Theatres

The New Colony
Chicago, IL

Definition Theatre Company
Chicago, IL

Playhouse on the Square
Memphis, TN

Village Rep Co.
Charleston, SC

Theatre Downtown
Birmingham, AL

Sixth Avenue
Los Angeles, CA

Cue6 Theatre
Toronto, Canada

Square Product Theatre
Boulder, CO

Byhalia, Mississippi is the winner of the 2014 NewWork@TheWorks Playwriting competition at Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, TN. POTS is participating in a World Premiere Conversation with their production opening January 8th at Theatreworks under the direction of John Manness.

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Byhalia, Mississippi received a workshop production in July 2015 directed by Andrew Hobgood. The play was part of Leap Fest XII, Stage Left Theatre's developmental festival for politically-minded new work, that has graduated over 20 new plays to world premieres in Chicago and beyond since 2004.

Byhalia, Mississippi tells the story of Jim and Laurel Parker, a white Mississippi couple whose newborn baby uncovers a secret affair and ignites racial turmoil in the town.

Simultaneous world premieres the weekend of January 8, 2016 in Chicago, IL, Memphis, TN, Charleston, SC, and Toronto, ON along with staged readings in Birmingham, AL, Boulder, CO, and Los Angeles, CA.

Join us for a multi-city digital talkback on Monday, January 18 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) to discuss the play’s impact.

  wpconvo.com is hosted by The New Colony

The Den Theater  • 1333 N Milwaukee Ave

Tickets and Info

  1. Chicago: Click Here or call 773.413.0862   
  2. Memphis: Click Here or call 901.726.4656  
  3. Charleston: Click Here or call 843.856.1579
  4. Toronto: Click Here
  5. Los Angeles: Click Here
  6. Boulder: Click Here
  7. Birmingham: Click Here

Latest Blog Post

About the Playwright: Evan Linder is a founding member and the Co-Artistic Director of The New Colony in Chicago, IL. He works as a playwright, actor and director. He also teaches playwriting at the University of Chicago. Evan’s first play produced in Chicago, FRAT, was named as one of the Best of 2009 in the Chicago Tribune, Windy City Times and New City. Other works include 11:11, The Warriors, The Bear Suit of Happiness, B-Side Studio and 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, which was named Best Overall Production at the 2012 NYC International Fringe Festival and is published by Samuel French. 5 Lesbians also enjoyed an Off-Broadway run as part of the Soho Playhouse’s 2012-2013 season. His play The Bear Suit of Happiness is published by Chicago Dramaworks, and he was recently listed on Chicago Magazine’s Power List of Theater Scene Stealers. In the past year, Evan originated the roles of Jonathan in reWILDing Genius as part of the Steppenwolf Garage Rep and Orville in Orville and Wilbur Did It! with The New Colony. He directed the world premiere musical Plastic Revolution as The New Colony’s first show in residence at The Den Theatre, and he also created The New Colony’s Writers Room, an education program he leads for twenty emerging Chicago playwrights. Evan is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America. evanlinder.com Instagram