Conner Prairie features new “Black Hoosiers: Untold Tales” playwright collection

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Devon Ginn, a performer with Walker Theatre, will perform in “Black Hoosiers: Untold Tales.” (Submitted photo)

An assortment of monologues, a nightly performance of “Rhodes Family Incident” and audience dialogue will all be included in Conner Prairie’s new collection, “Black Hoosiers: Untold Tales.” The collection features the work of African-American playwrights.

The monologues came about in preparation for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The monologues will be interspersed with “Rhodes Family Incident” during “Black Hoosiers: Untold Tales.”

“Rhodes Family Incident” tells the story of two college students growing up in Westfield who discover a racial incident that challenges their identity and hometown. Monologues will include contributions by Lillian Thomas Fox, Dr. Martin Jenkins and Willa Brown. 

“This was all built around the fact that most of these stories or people are completely unknown to the general public,” Director of Interpretation Catherine Hughes said. “So, these are all surprises, all, ‘I didn’t know that.’ That’s generally what we get.”

Hughes said the performance targets adult audiences.

“It really felt like it was time for us to put (the monologues) together for a whole evening where adults could enjoy them because they are, for the most part, something adults would appreciate,” she said. “It’s not like it’s kids’ theater. It’s very sophisticated and about difficult topics.”

Conner Prairie did a similar performance last summer, though that entailed a full-production play, and the 100-seat theater sold out for all five performances. Hughes hopes for similar results for “Black Hoosiers: Untold Tales.”

“The monologues are pretty brand new, and we want to have more people be able to see them,” she said. “People don’t think we will do a full theater performance, and that’s what this will be, a highly satisfying theatrical experience.”

Following the performance, dialogue will be conducted with the audience regarding topics such as race, history and identity. Ernest Disney-Britton, of Arts Council of Indianapolis, and Tamara Winfrey-Harris, of the Central Indiana Community Foundation, will facilitate the dialogue.

“(Attendants) will be surprised by the contributions of African-Americans to Indiana’s history,” Hughes said of the performances. “These are surprising stories that aren’t necessarily about famous people. It’s real people.”

“Black Hoosiers: Untold Tales” is a collaborative project between Conner Prairie and Asante Children’s Theatre. It is funded by the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation and Indiana Arts Commission. Tickets are $6 for the public and $5 for museum members. Tickets can be purchased at connerprairie.org or prior to each show. Performances will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 3, 10, 17 and 24 at the Lilly Theatre in Conner Prairie, 13400 Allisonville Rd.

Attend the show

What: “Black Hoosiers: Untold Tales” highlights the works of prominent African-American playwrights.

When: 7-9 p.m. Feb. 3, 10, 17 and 24.

Where: Lilly Theatre at Conner Prairie, 13400 Allisonville Rd.

Tickets: $6 for public, $5 for museum members. Purchase prior to shows or at connerprairie.org.


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