Playwright J.E. Franklin Book Event at the Castillo Theatre

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  Drama Desk Award winning playwright  J. e Franklin will present her new book of plays To Break Every Yoke with a staged production starring actress Vinie Burrows on Sunday October 5, from 2pm-4pm at the Castillo Theatre located at 543 W 42nd Street. The book event is hosted by Woodie King Jr.’s New Federal Theatre and is free to the public. For more information call New Federal Theatre 212-353-1176. To Break Every Yoke, published by Xlibris Press, has four plays that span from slavery to the 21st century. In Freedom Rider, a college student travels south during the early 1960s to do her part in making Dr. King's dream of freedom for everyone a reality. Mother, Dear Mother, I Still Think of Thee is the story of Blind Tom, a singer born in slavery, and of his mother’s struggles for over three decades to free him from bondage.  I Reckon That’s Why They Calls Us Coloredis the contemporary story of a man who has lived as white, and who finds himself entrapped in the racial laws of the nation's One-Drop Theory. Then, there’s the acclaimed Black Girl, in which a high school drop-out tries to break free from negative family forces to pursue her dream of being a dancer.  Vinie Burrows will co-star in the ten minute play I Reckon That’s Why They Calls Us Colored with Thomas Walker. Burrows has appeared on Broadway with the legends of theatre. She made her Broadway debut as a child actress onstage with Helen Hayes in Wisteria Trees directed by the renowned Joshua Logan. Other Broadway productions included the revival of Green Pastures with William Marshall and Ossie Davis; Jezebel’s Husband  with Claude Rains;Skin of Our Teeth with Mary Martin, George Abbott and Helen Hayes;  Mrs. Patterson with Eartha Kitt and Mandingowith Dennis Hopper. Burrows was in the original cast of The Blacks by Jean Genet with Lou Gossett, Roscoe Brown, Roxie Roker, Godfrey Cambridge and Cicely Tyson.  Malika Nzinga will star in Mother, Dear Mother, I Still Think of Thee.  “I wanted to show the range of the forms I’ve been working in,” said Franklin. “The   theme of To Break Every Yoke is freedom. In every play, a character is trying to break free.  In Mother, Dear Mother, I Still Think of Thee, a mother is trying to free her son, held in bondage for decades.  I Reckon That’s Why They Calls Us Colored is the story of a “white” man seeking freedom from white racism. In Black Girl, a young woman is trying to free herself from the negative forces in her family.  Freedom Rider is the story of a young freedom rider who journeyed to the Cradle of the Confederacy to join Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer’s struggle for voter rights, right before the 1964 election.” Franklin was one of those freedom riders. In To Break Every Yoke, Franklin has added the lost scenes from the original script of Black Girl, which underwent drastic cuts to accommodate the1969 airing over WGBH.  The acclaimed drama won a 1971 New York Drama Desk Award when it was produced Off-Broadway by Woodie King Jr.’s New Federal Theatre. Black Girl went on to become a major movie directed by Ossie Davis, with a guest appearance by his wife, Ruby Dee. Some of her other plays include: the Off-Broadway musical The Prodigal Sister, her folk dramas Coming to the Mercy Seat, Precious Memories,  Sons and Fathers of Sons and Three in the Key of Race,  her signature collections of Ten-Minute plays. A noted cultural scholar, Franklin was a Eugene O’Neill fellow, a Rockefeller fellow, a Resident Scholar at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a National Endowment for the Arts/U. S.-MEXICO Artist Exchange fellow and a John F. Kennedy New American Play Award winner.  She is a graduate of the University of Texas and also attended Union Theological Seminary in New York.  She has taught at the University of Iowa, Brown University, Skidmore College, Touro College and Herbert H. Lehman College.  Her works have appeared in many publications including Perrine’s Literature: Structure, Sound and Sense, published by Harcourt-Brace and Black Drama in America, published by Howard University Press.    

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