Inspired by a true incident with his father surviving a Ku Klux Klan beating, local playwright Harold Ellis Clark will celebrating his birthday with a staged reading of his new play, Uncle Bobby ’63.
This free event will take place at 7 p.m. (Friday) June 20 at Ashe Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. John Grimsley, who directed Clark’s award-winning 2012 play, Fishers of Men, will direct the staged reading.
Set in Algiers, Uncle Bobby ’63 is a Civil Rights-era drama and mystery, inspired by the true story of Clark’s father Reverend Harold E. Clark, Sr. (pastor of Greater St. John Baptist Church in Barataria, La.) and a friend, surviving a savage beating by Ku Klux Klansmen in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The incident occurred in 1958, and the Klansmen were later found to be policemen.
“The Civil Rights Movement is quite complex, and what I attempt to do when writing about complex subjects is to condense them into their simplest forms,” Clark said in an announcement. “For me, that era’s about bravery, hatred and hope. Those are the things that fuel Uncle Bobby ’63. I’m uncertain about the overall quality of the play at this point, which is why we’re holding the staged reading, and look forward to getting feedback from audience members. Their presence on June 20th is their birthday gift.”
Clark’s previous play, We Live Here, will also be produced and world premiered by Playhouse on the Square, the professional resident theatre company of Memphis from January 22-25, 2015.