Although the recent events of racial violence in the United States have shocked the country, not many realize that the killing of young black citizens is as American as apple pie.
Sixty years have passed since the murder of 14-year-old black teenager Emmett Till and Colorado College Theatre Major Alexandra Farr (’16) is presenting the court case and events surrounding his death in a new light.
“For Mamie Till-Mobley,” which Farr describes as a short, documentary-style drama, tells the story of Till and his death through the perspective of his mother Mamie as she fights against the injustice brought upon her son.
Based on the significant event that helped spark the Civil Rights movement, “For Mamie” is scheduled to run during Black History Month with tentative performance dates of Feb. 27 and 28.
In 1955, Emmett Till had been visiting family in Money, Miss. when he was accused of flirting with Carolyn Bryant, a white woman. Bryant’s husband and his half-brother kidnapped Emmett a few nights later, where they then mutilated the teenager and disposed of his body in the Tallahatchie River.
The two men were not indicted of the crime, a ruling that holds an eerie resemblance to the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases.Shortly after the trial, both men admitted to the murder of Emmett in a magazine but were protected due to double jeopardy.
Farr, who is also a member of Colorado College acapella group Room 46, incorporated music of the movement and time period into the script. Songs and hymns such as “We Shall Overcome” and “Oh Freedom” coincide with the plot.
“I’m using the music to sort of create the time period of the ‘50s,” said Farr. “And because this was an event that kind of sparked the Civil Rights Movement, I want to use songs that create that feeling.”
The script came to fruition as a project for Idris Goodwin’s “Writing for Performance” course last semester. Farr and her classmates were part of a Skype session with playwright Robert Schenkkan whose advice inspired Farr.
“You write about what you can’t let go of and what can’t let go of you,” said Farr. “And after Ferguson and Eric Garner and this past summer, issues of race and violence and basic civil rights have been something that I can’t let go of.”
After the piece was well received by classmates, Farr was urged to continue working on the script. Goodwin has guided Farr as she expanded the piece and began to give it life.
Auditions were held earlier this week in hopes of getting the project in full motion before the block ends.
“I’ve never written a play before, and I’ve never directed anything before, so this is all new to me,” said Farr. “But I think it’s an important story that needs to be told to people need to know about.”