Trouble in Mind
Ahead of its time, Trouble in Mind, written in 1955, follows the rehearsal process of an anti-lynching play preparing for its Broadway debut. When Wiletta, a Black actress and veteran of the stage, challenges the play’s stereotypical portrayal of the Black characters, unsettling biases come to the forefront and reveal the ways so-called progressive art can be used to uphold racist attitudes. Scheduled to open on Broadway in 1957, Childress objected to the requested changes in the script that would “sanitize” the play for mainstream audiences, and the production was canceled as a result. Childress’s final script is published here.
“An original play, full of vitality… Miss Childress has some witty and penetrating things to say about the dearth of roles for Negro actors in the contemporary theater, the cut-throat competition for these parts and the fact that Negro actors often find themselves playing stereotyped roles in which they cannot bring themselves to believe.”- New York Times, 1955
“Painfully relevant… One is gradually struck by how bracingly prophetic the late playwright’s script turns out to be.”- Variety
“Fascinating… A frank look at mid-1950s social attitudes, and also a commentary on the discomfort between Blacks and whites that remains relevant today… A rich, unsettling play that lives up to its title, Trouble in Mind lingers in one’s memory long after its conclusion.”- New York Times
“Fresh and bold, Trouble in Mind, which premiered in 1955, feels bang up-to-date in its scrutiny of the ways in which people who blithely assert their liberal credentials are capable of racism.”- Evening Standard
"With scathing wit and bold candor, Trouble in Mind stakes out territory where few playwrights, today or more than 50 years ago, have dared to tread."- Seattle Times