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People Productions Presents “The Talented Tenth”

Jan. 11, 2011 – People Productions, Utah’s only African American themed theatre, will present Richard Wesley’s The Talented Tenth, as a part of the University of Utah’s 27th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration. The play, influenced by an essay by the great African American writer, W.E.B. Du Bois, chronicles a group of successful African American men struggling with success and complacency 25 years after their involvement with Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.

Performances will run January 19 — January 22 and January 26 — 29 at 7:30 p.m. in Studio 115 of the University of Utah Performing Arts Building, 240 South 1500 East. Tickets–$15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors–are available at the door and at

In “The Talented Tenth,” Richard Wesley brings an unfamiliar set of black characters to the stage. These are not August Wilson’s wise old men out of Pittsburgh’s Hill District, or Lorraine Hansberry’s earnest working class from “A Raisin in the Sun.” They are not even the “kill whitey” revolutionaries, which populated Wesley’s “Black Terror.” These people are middle-aged professionals, successful products of Howard University’s prestigious business school-fund managers, realtors, insurance executives, etc. Their family vacations are in Jamaica and their children are in private schools.

Twenty-five years earlier these same “pillars of the system” were campus radicals who debated the principles of Malcolm X and marched for Martin Luther King, Jr. under a Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee banner. In the play, one man asks, “What happened to the revolution?” Is it possible to turn his life around and become one of Du Bois’ “Talented Tenth,” that segment of the African-American population destined to rise as high as possible so it can extend a helping hand to the less fortunate brothers and sisters?

“‘The Talented Tenth’ is often not an easy play for audiences to watch,” notes director Richard Scharine, professor emeritus in the University of Utah Department of Theatre. “Difficult questions are raised about the responsibilities demanded of society’s minorities and never the majority. Questions about racism, race and the color barriers within communities of color themselves,” says Scharine.

This year’s University of Utah Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration theme is “Reaffirming Equal Opportunity: Keeping the Dream Alive.” The week-long celebration will highlight the contributions and legacy of the late community leader as work continues toward the realization of equal opportunity for all.

The MLK celebration sponsor is the University of Utah Office for Equity and Diversity. Co-sponsors include the Hinckley Institute of Politics, the University of Utah Alumni Association, the ASUU Presenters Office and Diversity Board, University Marketing and Communications, Media One and Salt Lake City School District.

For more information and a complete list of celebration events and sponsors, visit . For information about “The Talented Tenth” and People Productions send an email to  or visit

Communication & Community Outreach

Office for Equity and Diversity, University of Utah

201 Presidents Circle, Room 120, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112-9017