CLAY'S PLACE: Inside My Blue Mind
Written and Directed By: Angela Wilson
How far away can you get from your secrets? It is 1956 in Memphis, TN. Blacks were still reeling from the tragic murder of a 14-year-old young man by the name of Emmett Till just a year earlier in neighboring Mississippi. The perversities of Jim Crow, lynching, segregation, disenfranchisement had deep roots in the Cotton Capital. Memphis was full of working poor blacks, highly skilled, but without education, who were relegated to working the most dangerous, dirtiest, and hazardous jobs.
These activities were set against the backdrop of the renown and popular downtown Beale, the Soul of Memphis, complete with its black-owned shops, stores and carnival atmosphere coupled with an indulgent nightlife that seduced many to engage in their clandestine vices. Lounges, clubs, gambling, prostitution, and incredible music; boogie-woogie and especially the blues; Beale had an allure that was hard to resist. Clay Carter and Turner Davis are first cousins. Born in the lower Mississippi Delta, as teens they hopped a train aiming to leave the deceptive, one-sided sharecropping system in search of a better life. Chicago was the goal but 240 miles from Greenville, MS was as far as they made it. Shelby County, TN.
Hustlers by nature, hanging out on Beale became second nature to their enterprising personalities. But after narrowly escaping death or imprisonment enough times and as relationships became a part of their lives, the desire to ‘go legit’ set in. But how can they resist the allure and charm of the life they have known for so long? Could they really achieve success in a society that despised them solely based on the color of their skin, because they were black men? The outward appearance of a man otherwise with the same nature, both with beating hearts in their inmost being.
Clay and Turner were willing to give their best effort to their cause, except for the fact that the limited choices they had were blemished by secrets of the past and present. Secrets that threatened to invade and interrupt their chances at realizing their dreams. Could they even rationally fathom real and true righteousness? Clay and Turner will be tested, tempted, and tormented; both with their own individual secrets that will either destroy them or deliver them.
Clay's Place is the second in the cycle of the planned collection of "Memphis Plays" penned by playwright Angela Wilson. New and old characters round out this story of struggle in the segregated south. In her signature style, Angela creates characters that are real, vulnerable and amazingly human.
Click here to read more about the playwright Angela Wilson
Make sure you head on down to Beale Street to meet this interesting community of humans who frequent Clay's Place!
"The characters come alive, especially inside Clay's Place. We can see the subdued lighting and the smoke-filled room, hear the Blues playing in the background and smell the beer the men gambling are drinking."
"The cast brings this material alive gloriously and works seamlessly as an ensemble."
"Overall, this is the epitome of what one would consider a Great American Play. The writing is somewhat reminiscent of James Baldwin's work in its poeticism, but with a fresh, entertaining, and provocative feel that is both unique and relative to the contemporary socio-political climate."