April 17, 2011

Black Star Line

Commissioned by Chicago’s Goodman Theatre and produced there in 1996, Black Star Line chronicles the rise of Marcus Garvey and the Back to Africa movement of the 1920’s.

Garvey, a Jamaican immigrant to the United States, founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). At a time when W.E.B. Du Bois and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) were arguing that African Americans should claim their full rights as US citizens, Garvey was pushing for a separate black sovereign nation in the African state of Liberia.

“One of the best plays about race that I have ever seen, emerging playwright Charles Smith’s bold and provocative historical drama is a major new American work. Unafraid to take risks in the minefield of race politics and history, Black Star Line is a balanced and measured portrayal of one of the most fascinating and ultimately tragic figures in twentieth century America.” – Chris Jones, New City

Original first drafts, intermediate drafts, final and/or published drafts of this play are part of the DePaul University Library’s Special Collections Archives Division, 2000.

Production Requirements:

Cast requirements: 16 men (11 African American, 5 Caucasian), 4 women (All African American)
Set requirements: Unit Set, various locations.
Approximate running time: 2 hour, 45 minutes (Three Acts)