Dreaming Emmett


Dreaming Emmett is the first play by the Nobel-winning African-American writer Toni Morrison. First performed in 1986, the play was commissioned by the New York State Writers Institute at SUNY-Albany. The play's world premier, which was directed by Gilbert Moses, was on January 5, 1986 at Capital Repertory Company in the Market Theater in Albany, New York. After its first production, Morrison reportedly destroyed all known video recordings of the play and copies of the script (although some critics describe copies existing but not being released by Morrison). Thus, all descriptions of the plot are reconstructed from contemporary reviews.The play is a historical retelling of the life of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American boy beaten to death in 1955 by a group of white men, and the subsequent trial and acquittal of his killers. Morrison uses Till's story to explore the "contemporary black urban youth['s] disproportionately high rate of death by violence".The play received mixed reviews in its initial production. The play has a unique style and form. Margaret Croyden, in her review of Dreaming Emmett for the New York Times, notes the control of Till's imagination on the play's elements and complex structural motifs, such as a play within a play, and creation of a "nonnaturalistic" and "nonlinear" narrative.
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