Penumbra's 'The Ballad of Emmett Till' and the legacy of violence

'The Ballad of Emmett Till'
Mikell Sapp, T. Mychael Rambo, H. Adam Harris, Sha Cage and Greta Oglesby in "The Ballad of Emmett Till" at Penumbra Theatre.
Courtesy Penumbra Theatre/Allen Weeks

You may have seen the photographs: The misshapen and brutalized boy in his coffin and his grief-stricken mother kneeling at his side.

Emmett Till was 14 when he was beaten and shot after supposedly flirting with a white woman in a Mississippi Delta town. His suspected killers were never indicted.

But this nearly 60-year-old-crime isn't just Civil Rights era history. It has vivid and violent echoes in today's world.

The Penumbra Theatre is staging "The Ballad of Emmett Till" through March 2. The performance has been called "devastating" and "austere, impassioned, and soul nourishing."

Sarah Bellamy, Penumbra's co-artistic director, said the theater chose to stage the play in the wake of the Trayvon Martin hearing to spark a conversation about what she calls a legacy of violence.

Penumbra founder Lou Bellamy and playwright Ifa Bayeza join The Daily Circuit to discuss the intersection of race, history and art.

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