A gripping account of one African refugee’s attempts to find peace by exposing a potentially dangerous, lifelong secret.
After surviving a tumultuous upbringing in war-torn Liberia, Shedrick Yarkpai has found a new home in a sunny, coastal Australian city. Safe from the horrific perils of guerrilla soldiers and refugee camps, Shedrick now faces a different type of danger: the haunting memories stirring inside him. Inspired by writer Charles Smith’s friendship with a Liberian refugee-turned-acclaimed-actor, the playwright crafts a harrowing story of personal honor vs. familial obligation and the responsibility that comes with being a survivor.
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 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.”
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.