By Special to the Daily World
Two public, staged readings of “The Green Book” by Calvin Alexander Ramsey, and directed by Freddie Hendricks, with sponsorship by Turner Broadcasting Systems, opened at Theatrical Outfit, The Balzer Theatre at Herren’s on Luckie Street in downtown Atlanta.
The free production ran Monday, April 11, and Tuesday, April 12 and launched the theater’s 2011-2012 season. “The Green Book” will run from Aug. 17 through Sept. 11.
In the unwelcoming Jim Crow-era of mid-20th century America, the actual travel guide “The Negro Motorist Green Book: An International Travel Guide (1936-1964)” informed Black travelers of safe places to dine and stay overnight, the “tourist homes” or private residences made available by African-American homeowners.
Atlanta-based playwright Calvin Alexander Ramsey’s “The Green Book” is a stirring new drama about just such a home, set in 1953 Jefferson City, Mo., where a Black military officer, his wife and a Jewish Holocaust survivor all spend the night only hours before W.E.B. Du Bois is scheduled to deliver a speech in town.
“The Green Book” explores not only the hurdles posed by racial and cultural divisions during a tumultuous time in history, but also the creative and humane ways in which people crossed those social barriers.
Following the dramatic readings, audience members had the rare opportunity to interact with the cast, playwright and director and share their feedback about the script.
A finalist in the 12th Annual Last Frontier Theater Conference in 2004, “The Green Book” also has had staged readings at Yale University and at the Lincoln Theatre, which featured civil rights activist and former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond.
Freddie Hendricks directs a cast that includes Donna Biscoe, Taurean Blacque, Betty Hart, Enoch King, Allen O’Reilly, Theroun Patterson and D. Woods. Liz Campbell is stage manager.
Calvin Alexander Ramsey, a writer, photographer and folk artist, grew up in Baltimore and Roxboro, N.C. He is a former Advisory Board member of the Robert Woodruff Library Special Collections at Emory University and a recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major for Justice Award. He has written several children’s books and other plays.
For more information, call Theatrical Outfit’s box office at 678-528-1500 or visit www.theatricaloutfit.org.
Box Office hours are Tuesdays through Fridays, noon to 6 p.m. and prior to performances. Seating is limited to 200.