Press

Chicago Tribune: Byhalia's Interracial Story about a Couple in Crisis has Only Deepened

The first time around, Byhalia had felt like a quirky, original domestic drama that dealt with issues of class and race with far more compassion and intelligence than most. That still is true. But on Thursday, this also felt like an important play of reconciliation. Born in Chicago. A lot has happened in America since January. We need this story of interracial friendship, and interracial consequence, even more now. Linder's play — which greatly deserves this shot at a wider audience and, I suspect, some inquisitive New York scouts — tells the story of a young married couple named Laurel and Jim... -Chris Jones

Chicago Reader: The southern drama Byhalia, Mississippi remains essential viewing.

Steppenwolf's 1700 Theatre revives Evan Linder's searing play.
A tour-de-force cast adds life, warts and all, to this sharply written script with each emotional interaction. These spouses, family, and friends might love one another, but that doesn’t mean they don’t wrestle with hate, guilt—and eventually even the sort of forgiveness that makes going forward possible. -Marissa Oberlander

Chicago Tribune: 2016 Jeff Award Nominations Announced

A new play, Evan Linder’s Byhalia, Mississippi, a widely acclaimed co-production between the Definition Theatre Company and The New Colony, was much admired by the all-volunteer committee; its six nominations were the most of any play this season. -Chris Jones

Time Out Chicago: Steppenwolf Theatre Company announces new season

Also this summer in the 1700 Theatre: a much-deserved transfer of Byhalia, Mississippi, a co-production between The New Colony and Definition Theatre Company that recently played the Den Theatre. Evan Linder’s play, directed by Tyrone Phillips, is a smart, funny and nuanced consideration of the current state of racial relations in a small town with a charged history on the subject, by way of a white couple whose newborn child raises an unexpected rift. (July 22–August 21) -Kris Vire

Review: Chicago Tribune

(★★★½ out of four) I've long been interested in Linder's work. But it took until Monday night for him to deliver an honest-to-goodness play. By that I mean a really good new American drama: something wise, truthful, funny and moving; a piece that other theaters should do; a script that hangs easily with shows by the leading writers of our day and a show that might bring a little moistness to one's cheek. BYHALIA, MISSISSIPPI is that play. I fell for it quite hard. I think you would, too. It's lovely. - Chris Jones

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Evan Linder and Liz Sharpe in Chicago (photo by Joe Mazza)

Review: Chicago Theater Beat

(★★★★ out of four) This is a beautifully acted and brutally realistic exploration of betrayal and the price of truth...BYHALIA is uncompromising in its peeling away of the layers of a hypocritical façade that are not unique to the American South, from whence playwright Linder comes. - Clint May

KiKi Layne in Chicago (photo by Joe Mazza)

Review: Chicago Theatre Review

(Highly Recommended!) ...that realism comes from Tyrone Phillips’ direction and John Wilson’s spectacular set, which not only captures the dated furniture and weather-worn wooden siding of the Parker’s country home, but even the gravel outside their front door...an original, challenging play that only furthers the Chicago theater community’s peerless examination of race in the 21st century. -Peter Thomas Ricci

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Evan Linder and Jeffery Owen Freelon Jr. in Chicago (photo by Joe Mazza)

Review: Theatre By Numbers; Chicago, IL

One of the Best...{Linder's} characters are real people. They have real problems. They have real feelings. They speak in very real cadences that bring the viewer into the world of the play. This is a really well-crafted work. When that script with great characters is then put on the stage with great care, you get a show like this one, which is surely the best that I’ve seen in a while, not just in the brief beginnings of 2016. -Christopher Kidder-Mostrom

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Cecelia Wingate and Liz Sharpe in Chicago (photo by Joe Mazza)

Review: Chicago Critic

(Highly Recommended!) It’s a great sign for the future of theatre when two young companies are able to collaborate on an outstanding world premiere. It’s an even better sign when those two companies are ambitious enough to convince other theatre troupes in far-flung cities to join them in launching multiple productions of a new play...BYHALIA, MISSISSIPPI is a must-see, and one which demands to be talked about.-Jacob Davis

Evan Linder and Jeffrey Owen Freelon Jr in Chicago (photo by Joe Mazza)

Evan Linder and Jeffrey Owen Freelon Jr in Chicago (photo by Joe Mazza)

Review: Chicago Reader

(Highly Recommended!) A world-premiere coproduction from the New Colony and Definition Theatre Company, this superb play by Evan Linder follows Jim and Laurel Parker, “proud white trash” in the titular Mississippi town...Directed by Tyrone Phillips, the work broadens into a thoughtful examination of racism’s tentacles and the grip they have on even the most intimate of relationships.-Marissa Oberlander

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Evan McCarley and Jillian Barron in Memphis (photo by Noby Edwards)

Preview: American Theatre Magazine

Ripped From the Headlines: Byhalia, Mississippi Makes Simultaneous Premieres by Avery Diubaldo The Harvard Crimson, reporting on the shooting of 21-year-old black youth Butler Young Jr. by a white policeman in Byhalia, Miss., described the incident as 'a far-reaching and traumatic example of the persisting racial polarization that continues to haunt the New South.' The article’s date of publication? Oct. 2, 1974. 'Persisting', indeed.

Mazin Elsadig and Virgilia Griffith in Toronto

Mazin Elsadig and Virgilia Griffith in Toronto (photo by Samantha Hurley)

Review: Mooney on Theatre; Toronto, ON

BYHALIA, MISSISSIPPI is a resonating and intense work of art that had me gasping on the edge of my chair. Lines from this charged play by Evan Linder keep echoing in my mind...Do yourself a favour and make this your first play of 2016. - Catherine Jan

Jai Johnson and Marc Gill in Memphis (photo by Noby Edwards)

Jai Johnson and Marc Gill in Memphis (photo by Noby Edwards)

Review: Broadway World; Memphis, TN

...after seeing the play, I realized that I was guilty of preconceived notions and misconceptions - a shortcoming shared by black and white characters alike in Mr. Linder's probing, ambitious work...Byhalia is simply a microcosm; it is as representative of us as a nation as is Grovers Corners in Thornton Wilder's OUR TOWN. - Joseph Baker

Joshua Browne and Clare Armstrong (photo by Samantha Hurley)

Joshua Browne and Clare Armstrong in Toronto (photo by Samantha Hurley)

Review: Digital Journal; Toronto, ON

BYHALIA tells a story that rings with relevance and timeliness as American racial violence and prejudice continue to make headlines and little seems to be changing about it. And if the intense Toronto production directed by Jill Harper is typical, this drama is essential viewing no matter what city you’re in. - Jeff Cottrill

Chicago Tribune: Byhalia, Mississippi preserved in Chicago Film Archive of Performance

A new archive of Chicago theater performances is being created through Actors' Equity and the Chicago Public Library that will allow anyone with a valid photo ID to watch recorded shows like the recent hits SENDER and BYHALIA, MISSISSIPPI. -Morgan Greene

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Preview: Memphis Flyer

And while Faulkner, who merely died in Byhalia, gets a shout-out on the town's website, the boycotts, which could be a source of pride and a testament to black citizens' resilience, are unmentioned. 'People have been fine with letting that history slip away,' Linder said. The play is not meant to be an indictment of Byhalia specifically, Linder noted, but of our collective selective memory and how our failure to reckon with it honestly hamstrings our future. As Faulkner famously wrote, 'The past is never dead. It's not even past.' -Wendi C. Thomas

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Preview: Post and Courier; Charleston, SC

Like most Millennial Southerners, Linder is much too young to know the truth about the past from personal experience, but too old and informed to believe the falsehoods that guard it. Instead, he’s made a name for himself as a playwright focused on the people caught in the boundaries of our humanity and understanding, often from a Southern perspective reflecting on evangelism, race, sexuality and gender. -Matthew Godbey

PREVIEW: Charleston City Paper; Charleston, SC
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Charley Smith and George Carruth in Charleston (photo by Sierra Garland)

PREVIEW: Now Toronto; Toronto, ONhappening
PREVIEW: The Commercial Appeal; Memphishappening
 

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