Polar Bears, Black Boys & Prairie Fringed Orchids

A liberal thinking white couple open the doors of their renovated Harlem brownstone to host a cocktail party for a Black Lives Matter activist, his plus one, an author and businesswoman, and the mother of a slain 10 year-old Black boy. A night of cocktails and conversation spark emotional debates ranging from underweight polar bears, Lana Turner, gentrification, saving the planet, racial identity and protecting the lives of Black boys.
  • Recommend
  • Download
  • Save to Reading List

Polar Bears, Black Boys & Prairie Fringed Orchids

Recommended by

  • Steve Harper:
    5 Dec. 2020
    A fun ride that focuses on race, class, morals and political correctness. The characters are a diverse group who challenge each other in poignant and powerful ways. A juicy theatrical experience!
  • Nick Malakhow:
    10 Sep. 2020
    Excellent! Durham manages to excoriate white supremacy, gentrifiers, and virtue signalers while still showing us flawed and complex characters who aren't all good or bad. The sharp and satiric humor is perfectly pitched and equal parts cringeworthy and all-too-familiar. In Tom, Molly, and Peter, we see three super different but equally harmful images of white liberalism. The endangered species motif threaded throughout is quite potent as well. The final exchange between Jaquan and Elijah is gutting, quiet in its power, and an effective punctuation mark for the piece. Wonderful, essential work.
  • Leah Roth Barsanti:
    10 Sep. 2020
    This is the kind of play you read with your stomach... full of tough questions and even tougher answers, Durham's play - in which well-meaning characters navigate the racial hierarchy of a gentrifying Harlem - offers unblinking insights into the unintentional harm that can be done when groups of people don't understand each other's perspectives. With an ending that will leave you breathless, POLAR BEARS, BLACK BOYS & PRAIRIE FRINGED ORCHIDS is timely, brave, and hella smart. And you should produce it like... yesterday.

Character Information

  • Jaquan Wallace
    33,
    Black American
    ,
    Male
    Black-American, male, 33 years-old, born and raised in Harlem, NY. He spent his high school years on academic scholarship at a boys school in New Haven, CT. He is an elementary school teacher and Black Lives Matter activist. He is openly gay but is often wrongly mistaken as heterosexual. His activism with the Black Lives Matter movement has him re-examining his 6 year relationship with his white lover.


  • Peter Castle
    40,
    white American
    ,
    Male
    White-American, male, 40 years-old, born and raised to a blue collar, middle class family in Upstate New York. He worked to put himself through college and medical school and believes anyone is able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Nonetheless, he would lend you the shirt off of his back. He is not a racist or bigot but impatient with political correctness and the thought that the playing field has been easier for him than others. His home and bar is a refuge from a stressful career as an emergency room trauma surgeon. He has been married to Molly Castle for 13 years. He is father to the couple's adopted 3 year-old Black son. He still hopes to have a biological child with his wife.


  • Molly Castle
    38,
    white American
    ,
    Female
    White-American, female, 38 years-old, born and raised on Long Island, NY to a blue collar, middle class family. Her parents encouraged education and paid for all of their children to attend private schools and the best colleges the family budget could afford. She is the co-founder of a non-profit environmental foundation and dedicated to saving the planet. She is a wide eyed optimist, intelligent, eager and open. She is happy with her marriage and being a mother of 1.



  • Shameka Davis
    34,
    Black American
    ,
    Female
    Black-American, female, 34 years-old, born and raised in Harlem, NY to a middle class family. Her mother was a music teacher and her father previously owned the bookstore that she now operates. She is not a "Sassy Black Girl" but a straightforward, well-read, college educated, confident, single, Black woman.


  • Tom
    33,
    white American
    ,
    Male
    White-American, male, 33 years-old, born and raised in Manhattan, NY to a well-to-do family. Educated at all the best schools. A poor little rich boy with a former addiction to drugs and alcohol. He now runs a drug rehab facility. He is openly gay, straightforward, opinionated, and blissfully ignorant of his lover questioning their relationship.

  • Rita Dupree
    26,
    Black American
    ,
    Female
    Black-American, female, 26 years-old, born and raised in Harlem, NY.
    She is a single mother. She works at a dollar store during the day and a Roy Rogers at night. She is grieving the death of her son Elijah Dupree at the hands of NYPD three weeks prior.


  • Officer Lennox
    30,
    white American
    White-American, male, 30s, NYPD officer. (Character to be doubled by actor portraying Tom.)
  • Elijah Dupree
    10,
    Black American
    ,
    Male
    (Pre-recorded voice over) Black-American, male. Rita Dupree's deceased 12 year-old son.

Development History

Production History

  • University
    ,
    Stanford Repertory Theatre
    ,
    2019

Awards

Finalist
,
NNPN National Showcase of New Plays
,
National New Play Network
,
2019