Additional Programming 

  2016 Southern Writers Large

Southern Writers Onstage:  Living in the Jim Crow South

Dramatic Reading Series


All performances at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St., Noon on Tuesdays

FREE and open to the public!


Eric Moore and Tony Vaughn present Booker T. Washington

Tuesday, February 2, 12 noon

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) is perhaps best known today for his speech, later dubbed the “Atlanta Compromise,” that he delivered at Piedmont Park at the first Negro Building of the great world fairs, the 1895 Cotton States Exposition.  He advised that blacks and whites work together to make determined, albeit slow, progress. In his autobiography, Washington tells of his determination to get an education, his journey to Hampton Institute in Virginia and then t Tuskegee. Up from Slavery (1901) that follows the tradition of a self-made man finding success was a best seller in its day.



Eric Little presents W.E.B. DuBois

Tuesday, February 9, 12 noon

W. E. B. Du Bois (1868-1963) was born in Massachusetts and in 1895 became the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard. His first experience of the South, teaching sociology and history at Atlanta University (1897-1910), was haunted by the death of his two year old son. He founded the N.A.A.C.P., edited its publication Crisis, and was the leading African American intellectual of the twentieth century. In Du Bois’s ground breaking Souls of Black Folk (1903), he explained that “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line.”



E. Roger Mitchell presents Richard Wright

Tuesday, February 16, 12 noon

Richard Wright (1908-1960), author of novels, short stories, poems, and nonfiction, had a difficult childhood; his father was an illiterate tenant farmer; his mother a country school teacher had ill health; he was uprooted and moved many times in search of stable livelihood. The ninth grade was a turning point for Wright.  Having been named the class valedictorian, he determined to make something of himself.  He moved to Memphis and in 1927 to Chicago where he began his writing life. His first novel Native Son (1940) was an instant and controversial best seller. His coming-of-age autobiography Black Boy (1945) describes the difficulties of growing up in the South.



Rob Cleveland presents Ernest J. Gaines

Tuesday, April 19, 12 noon

Ernest J. Gaines (1933- ) grew up in New Roads, Louisiana, and at age fifteen he moved to California to get the education that his home state denied him.  His fictional world of the South came alive with The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1971), A Gathering of Old Men (1983), A Lesson before Dying (1993).  His story of a young boy, James, in the Jim Crow South “The Sky Is Gray” was published in the 1968 collection Bloodline. The National Endowment for the Humanities is offering a four-week Institute in Lafayette, Louisiana, this summer for university teachers and graduate students: “Ernest J. Gaines and the Southern Experience.”




Southern Writers Onstage is produced in partnership with Theatrical Outfit. Founded in 1976, Theatrical Outfit has flourished under the leadership of Tom Key, Executive Artistic Director, since 1995. The Balzer Theater at Herren’s, the first LEED certified theater in the United States, is proud to be in the space of Atlanta’s first restaurant to voluntarily integrate its tables. For more information about Theatrical Outfit, please visit

Support for Southern Writers Onstage provided by the Georgia State University Department of English. GSU Faculty Project Lead:  Pearl McHaney, Kenneth M. England Professor of Southern Literature.





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