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Eugene O’Neill’s groundbreaking 1921 play, The Emperor Jones, was the first American play that featured an African-American actor in the lead role on Broadway. Charles S. Gilpin’s portrayal of Emperor Brutus Jones was hailed as “revelatory,” and he was named the finest actor of the age. The opening of The Emperor Jones made stars of both men; it was O’Neill’s first commercial success, and Charles Gilpin became...
Eugene O’Neill’s groundbreaking 1921 play, The Emperor Jones, was the first American play that featured an African-American actor in the lead role on Broadway. Charles S. Gilpin’s portrayal of Emperor Brutus Jones was hailed as “revelatory,” and he was named the finest actor of the age. The opening of The Emperor Jones made stars of both men; it was O’Neill’s first commercial success, and Charles Gilpin became the toast of the theater world. But by 1926, O’Neill was a legend and Gilpin was lost to history. N explores the challenging relationship between Gilpin and O’Neill and how it ultimately hinged on one word; a word that lifted one of them to the heights of American theater, and a word that destroyed the other.
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Recommended by

  • Rachel Bublitz:
    10 Apr. 2018
    A wonderful play about race and artistry, legacy and opportunity. Pender makes her historic play urgent and immediate. I would love to see a full production with the sound and other design elements. Great work.

Development History

  • Reading
    ,
    Eugene O'Neill Foundation
    ,
    2016
  • Reading
    ,
    Dayton Playhouse
    ,
    2016

Production History

  • Professional
    ,
    Theatre in the Park
    ,
    2017