Mud Row

by Dominique Morisseau
Originally produced at People's Light, Malvern, PA
June 26 to July 28, 2019

About the Premiere Production:

Synopsis: Regine inherits a house she never wanted, while Toshi's been squatting for three months. Elsie hopes to move up in the world; Frances fights to change it. Two generations of sisters protect and defy the legacy of their foremothers in this riveting, funny, and ultimately hopeful world premiere set in West Chester, PA and written by one of the most sought-after voices in American theatre.

Artistic Statement: Commissioned through our New Play Frontiers playwright residency and play development program, Mud Row is inspired by the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement in West Chester, PA. Rooted in the history of a local community center and stories Morisseau heard from four generations of African-American members of the center, Mud Row focuses on the contrasting life trajectories of sisters in the 1960s and today, and the impact of activism, gentrification and addiction on their lives. The play is written for four women and two men in their 20’s and 30’s.

The West Chester African-American neighborhood that inspired the play, once the home of activist leader Bayard Rustin, is experiencing rapid change. Dominique has written a play that explores opposing ideas between elder and young about the future of the neighborhood. The play is about sisters and motherhood, the talented tenth, non-violent and violent protest, property rights, the power of wealth, domestic abuse, addiction and recovery. All of these are the byproducts of a history of segregation in West Chester that remains alive and in vivid colors for many of the residents there. The Center’s 12-step meetings, afterschool programs, music and dance performances, youth basketball and multi-generational holiday gatherings inspired the story Dominique chose to tell and the questions she asks through the play: What do we do when the roots of our family trees threaten to destroy the foundations of our homes? How do we honor the past without reliving it? What must we let go of, or reconnect ourselves to, so we might heal? How do we restore our belief in the possibility of growth and positive change?

Like all Morisseau’s plays, Mud Row pulses with energy and reveals great truths through its specificity and richly drawn characters. We believe it will resonate with our audiences and audiences across the country.

Grant Statement: An additional week of rehearsal and extra preview performances will allow the playwright and creative team the breathing room in which to make changes in the lead-up to opening.

Director: Steve H. Broadnax III

Additional funders: Steve H. Broadnax III

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