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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

Press Photo by Heather Holty Newton

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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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, …

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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 …