Editor’s Note: Dallas theatergoers have a unique opportunity to hear from the co-writer of the play David Barr III to speak to the audience after Saturday matinee performance, Oct 31 at 3 p.m. and Sunday evening performance at 7:30 p.m.
By Sonja Washington
The murder of Emmett Louise Till is an important story that cannot be forgotten and thanks to The Face of Emmett Till, many can be introduced to this historic event. At the dawn of the civil rights movement a very critical time in American History, many people were lost black, brown, and white because of hate. As we look at our headlines in 2015 the tragic stories of the lives lost are similar and heart breaking.
Each time we discuss these murders we mourn the potential lost in a life taken too soon, lamenting all that he or she may have offered this world. Rarely do we think about the mother’s anguish for losing a child in such a deplorable way. How it is an unnatural experience that leaves an indescribable emptiness in their lives and hearts. We naïvely believe the story stops at Mr. Till’s death; which is far from the truth.
However, during The Face of Emmett Till you are able to experience the tragedy through the perspective of Master Till’s mother. Mamie Till-Mobley’s story is eloquently communicated to the audience. The storyline shares the stages of grief she experiences in the wake of her son’s murder. Going further to express the process of her questioning whether she made the right decisions to allow Emmett to visit the South of which he was not adequately prepared to experience coming from Chicago.
I am impressed with the performance of Sherry Hurnes who brings Mamie Till-Mobley to life. Her ability to connect with this character was apparent. The emotion of losing a child in that manner is not what stood out to me while watching her. It was the strength that she communicated to the audience. The strength it obviously took to stand up to adversity while seeking justice for her slain child. Hurnes delivered on this particular fact so well that as a mother it empowered me to think I could do that same if faced with the situation.
There was another performance that stood out to me. Justus L. Clark left me with the feeling that I met Master Till in the flesh. He captured the essence of a boy from the North who lacked any understanding of with all things associated with racism. He was able to communicate the hope of a 14 year old young man ready to experience the world and all that it had to offer. More importantly, Clark gave a more than believable performance surrounding Mr. Till’s speech impediment which perhaps contributed to his murder. Clark is a talent that Dallas theater fans can expect to see a bright future for this rising star.
I highly recommend The Face of Emmett Till. It brings to life a different storyline that reminds us of the impact of the tragic death of our sisters and brothers killed just for being the wrong skin color. It is important to remember that when a murder takes place there is often one person who never recovers. A mother’s love is something celebrated as an important role in our culture. However, the pain she experiences when a child is stolen from her because of hate is one we seem to forget when thinking of the story of Emmett Till.
TeCo Theatrical Productions is showcasing The Face of Emmett Till for only four more shows: Fri. Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday Oct. 31 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and then on Sunday Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m. Bishop Arts Theatre Center is located at 215 South Tyler Street in Dallas. The cost is only $18 in advance or $22 at the door. You can order tickets at 214-948-0716.