DEEP RIVERS

A Ten-Minute Play

(2M / Drama)

Synopsis

An ailing civil rights activist is asked by his former protégé to make
a very public and startling admission.

Development History

September 2014

2014 NAACP Theatre Festival, Los Angeles

Director: Dwain Perry

Actors: Kem Saunders, Aaron Jennings

July 2014

1st Annual Paul Robeson Theatre Festival, Los Angeles

Director: Dwain Perry

Actors: Frank Faucette, Aaron Jennings

Playwright's Notes

Deep Rivers is a short play I wrote specifically for the 1st Annual Paul Robeson Theatre Festival.  I love history, so I went back in time and explored the various milestones of Robeson’s life, particularly the role he played during the civil rights movement.  In reading Paul Robeson Jr.'s The Undiscovered Paul Robeson: Quest for Freedom and James Farmer’s Lay Bare the Heart, I noticed some glaring contradictions in the recounting of a key conversation the civil rights leader had with Robeson. This intrigued me and so I began exploring the dynamics of who these men were at the time and why their accounts of that moment were so different. What was being left out and why?  Had their memories of that meeting truly failed them or were they simply controlling their own narratives? And what were the external and internal forces pulling them apart? 

I wanted Robeson’s voice to come alive in this piece, and to show how his lifelong struggle and fight for social justice came at a great cost. Yet, I also wanted Farmer (who was depicted in the film The Great Debaters by Denzel Whitaker) to have his say as he was probably one of the few who could truly hold his own with Robeson.  Essentially, this play explores what happens when two men with great minds challenge each other’s political ideologies, even when those ideologies, at the core, have striking similarities.

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