Writing the Introduction The introduction should include the following:
Act 1 opens with Wiletta Mayer, a middle-aged veteran actor, accepting accolades from the doorman, who recognizes her from past performances. Wiletta is joined by John Nevins, a novice actor.
Wiletta admires John, particularly when she discovers that he is the son of her girlhood friend. She gives him advice on how to survive and succeed on the American stage, which popularizes stereotypes of African Americans. She tells him that he must laugh, cry, or shuffle on demand in order to keep a part in a play and to earn a pittance.
She boldly informs him that he must play the Uncle Tom, the servile black person who flatters whites in order to secure favors. She says that twenty years in the theater have taught her that any demonstration of assertiveness on the part of a black actor may result in unemployment.
When John proudly asserts that he intends to succeed in the theater without compromising his integrity, Wiletta essentially tells him that he is a fool and abandons her efforts to serve as his mentor. The two actors are joined by Millie Davis, a thirty-five-year-old black actor who has become disillusioned by the Aunt Jemima roles she has had to play.
While Millie is flaunting her mink coat and boasting that her husband really does not want her to work, Judy Sears and Sheldon Forrester enter. Judy, a young white actor who has recently been graduated from Yale University, is optimistic that the American stage will embrace women. Sheldon, an elderly black actor who is accustomed to settling for any role he can get, wants all other black actors to make as few disturbances as possible about characterization.
While the group waits for the director to arrive, the black actors speak freely about the plight of African Americans both on and off the American stage. Wiletta and Millie tease each other about the limiting roles, as either mammies or ladies of the evening, they have played.
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Trouble in Mind is the first full-length play produced on the professional New York stage with a middle-aged black woman as protagonist. Childress began her career in theater as an actress.
Apr 20, · “Trouble in Mind,” by Alice Childress, is at Two River Theater, 21 Bridge Avenue, Red Bank, through April Information: () or caninariojana.com A version of this article appears in print on, on Page NJ 11 of the New York edition with the headline: A Play About a Play Reveals Racial Tensions.
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