The Reclamation of Madison Hemings

It’s 1866, and the Civil War has ended. Madison Hemings, son of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, and Israel Jefferson, formerly enslaved footman, return to Monticello in search of Israel’s long-lost brother. Together, they must face their conflicting feelings about the man who wrote “All men are created equal.” Slavery has been abolished, but what really has changed? From what personal bonds do we need to break free? And where do we need to hold on tight? Don’t miss this gripping world premiere about history, family, and hard truths.

Original cast for the Goodman Theatre workshop of The Reclamation of Madison Hemings. L to R: John Cothran Jr., Stephen McKinley Henderson, playwright Charles Smith, director Ron O.J. Parson.

Objects in the Mirror


Objects in the Mirror named one of six finalists for the 2018 American Theatre Critics Association’s Steinberg Award

Established in 1977, the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award recognizes playwrights for the best scripts that premiered professionally outside New York City during 2017.

According to the American Theatre Critics Association, Objects in the Mirror “compellingly takes us into the mindset of the masses of refugees fleeing wars and other violence and their struggle against great odds to survive and escape.” It’s about both “the price of immigration, and the importance of identity, with a second act that feeds on the first act in clever ways but takes us in a new direction.” “I was also moved,” said one panelist, “by the identity crisis at the heart of the play—the hunger to reclaim a self and name that no longer belong to you.” It conveys “a great deal about how worlds apart people can be, how different their ideas of how to help.”

Objects in the Mirror premiered at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in 2017.

Synopsis and more information.

About Charles Smith

Charles Smith’s plays have been produced off-Broadway and from coast to coast by theaters such as Victory Gardens Theater, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Goodman Theatre, New Federal Theatre, The Acting Company, People’s Lights & Theatre Company, Penumbra, Crossroads Theatre Company, Penguin Repertory, Ujima Theatre Company, The Colony Theatre, St. Louis Black Rep, Seattle Rep, Jubilee Theatre, Ensemble Theatre in Houston, Berkeley Rep, The Robey Theatre Company, and Ensemble Theatre in Cleveland.

Many of this plays use various historical contexts to explore contemporary issues of race, identity, and politics in America. His work spans a gamut from contemporary investigations of historic icons such as Denmark Vesey, Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Dubois, and Alexandre Dumas, to examinations of race and politics in a more current setting such as the impact of the end of segregation on Chicago’s Southside.

The Gospel According to James and Other Plays


“The strengths of Smith’s theatre collection are numerous and exhilarating. His characters are original and surprising, often vexing and exasperating, but they each have their piece to contribute. Smith’s dramas are persuasive without being didactic, and without suggesting simple conclusions. They are eloquent and poignant, but with a punch. Something like Carson McCullers without the malaise, or Spike Lee without the chatter. These are smart, profoundly felt, demanding scripts that refuse to pander to our expectations. The Gospel According to James and Other Plays belongs on the shelf of anyone with a sincere love for relevant, powerful theatre.”

Christopher Soden, writing for ForeWord Reviews, Read the full review here. 

This collection of five award-winning plays by Charles Smith includes Jelly Belly, Free Man of Color, Pudd’nhead Wilson, Knock Me a Kiss, and The Gospel According to James. Powerful, provocative, and entertaining, these plays have been produced by professional theatre companies across the country and abroad. The collection is now available through most outlets including Swallow Press. 

The Indiana Repertory Theatre and Victory Gardens Theater productions of The Gospel According to James featured André DeShields in the titular role. For more information about André DeShields, please visit his website here.