Show Information


February 1 - March 7
Upperstage
Tickets start at $25

Submit a Review

Hashtag: #IRTlive

About the Play


The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963
based on the book by Christopher Paul Curtis
adapted by Cheryl L. West
directed by Mikael Burke
February 1 - March 7, 2020

a family rooted in love

When the Watsons load their young children into the car for the long drive from Michigan to visit family in the Deep South, they take their Green Book to help plan for the prejudice encountered by black people traveling in Jim Crow America. What they don’t expect is to find themselves caught up in an act of violence that will go down in Civil Rights history. Strength and love help them face their struggles and find a path forward in this powerful drama for the whole family.

APPROXIMATE RUN TIME: 1 hour and 10 minutes, with no intermission

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 is a Civil Rights-era family drama that contains mild onstage violence, strobe, haze, loud noises, images of the Ku Klux Klan, and a dramatization of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. Recommended for patrons 5th grade and above. Due to content and length, children under 4 years of age are not permitted in the OneAmerica Mainstage and Upperstage Theatres. Learn more about our attendance policies here.


Artistic Note:
“The IRT has a long history of bringing great books to the stage. Cheryl West’s adaptation of Christopher Paul Curtis’s award-winning novel is a prime example of how the IRT tries to choose plays that will speak directly to students but also to their families. The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 is focused on our nation’s fraught Civil Rights history, but it also provides opportunities for parents and children to discuss some of today’s most pressing issues: racism, class struggle, violence, and a culture of hate. At the same time, it demonstrates the enduring power of family, love, and community.”
–Richard J Roberts, Resident Dramaturg

Read the program

REad the study guide


The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 is part of our new INclusion Series celebrating diverse storytelling. This series features work by female playwrights on the Native American, African American, and Chinese American experience. The full series consists of And So We Walked: An Artist’s Journey Along the Trail of TearsThe Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 and The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin

Special Performances
Learn More

OPENING CELEBRATION
Saturday, February 1, 2020 | Performance at 3 PM

Raise a glass and cheers to the cast and crew at IRT’s Opening Night! After the show, delight in a champagne toast, hors d’oeuvres, and a one-time-only chance to explore the set with IRT Artisans.

POST-SHOW DISCUSSION with Susan L. Hall Dotson, Coordinator of African American History at the Indiana Historical Society
Saturday, February 8, 2020 | Following the 3 PM performance

Please join us for a post-show discussion immediately following this performance. Susan L. Hall Dotson, Coordinator of African American History at the Indiana Historical Society, will share her reflections on the historical nature of the play as well as the use of Green Books by African American travelers to avoid the dangers of racism and harm in Jim Crow America.

POST-SHOW DISCUSSION with CICF
Saturday, February 8, 2020 | Following the 7 PM performance

Please join a special community conversation following this performance. Pamela Ross, Vice President of Opportunity, Equity and Inclusion at the Central Indiana Community Foundation, will facilitate a post-show discussion.

POST-SHOW DISCUSSION
Saturday, February 15, 2020 | Following the 3 PM performance

Join IRT staff and cast immediately after the performance for a post-show discussion that covers a variety of interesting topics related to the show. Post-show discussions typically last for 20 minutes.

POST-SHOW DISCUSSION with CICF
Saturday, February 15, 2020 | Following the 7 PM performance

Please join a special community conversation following this performance. Tamara Winfrey Harris, Vice President of Community Leadership & Effective Philanthropy at the Central Indiana Community Foundation, will facilitate a post-show discussion.

SENSORY FRIENDLY PERFORMANCE
Saturday, February 22, 2020 | Performance at 3 PM

Sensory Friendly performances are designed to create a welcoming experience for all, including those with autism or other sensory sensitivities. Elements of this performance may be adapted to ensure the comfort of all of our audience members.

POST-SHOW DISCUSSION with CICF
Saturday, February 22, 2020 | Following the 3 PM performance

Please join a special community conversation following this performance. Rob MacPherson, Vice President of Development & Strategy at the Central Indiana Community Foundation, will facilitate a post-show discussion.

POST-SHOW DISCUSSION
Saturday, February 22, 2020 | Following the 7 PM performance

Join IRT staff and cast immediately after the performance for a post-show discussion that covers a variety of interesting topics related to the show. Post-show discussions typically last for 20 minutes.

ASL/AD PERFORMANCE
Sunday, February 23, 2020 | Performance at 2 PM

The IRT offers ASL/AD services to our patrons with vision and hearing needs. Patrons with hearing needs are encouraged to sit in the interpretation zone and meet with the interpreter before the show. We also offer Assisted Listening Devices free of charge at each performance.

To learn more visit irtlive.com/accessibility

POST-SHOW DISCUSSION
Sunday, February 23, 2020 | Following the 2 PM performance

Join IRT staff and cast immediately after the performance for a post-show discussion that covers a variety of interesting topics related to the show. Post-show discussions typically last for 20 minutes.

POST-SHOW DISCUSSION
Saturday, February 29, 2020 | Following the 3 PM performance

Join IRT staff and cast immediately after the performance for a post-show discussion that covers a variety of interesting topics related to the show. Post-show discussions typically last for 20 minutes.

POST-SHOW DISCUSSION with CICF
Saturday, February 29, 2020 | Following the 7 PM performance

Please join a special community conversation following this performance. Robin Elmerick, Not-for-profit Sustainability Officer at the Central Indiana Community Foundation, will facilitate a post-show discussion.

POST-SHOW DISCUSSION
Sunday, March 1, 2020 | Following the 2 PM performance

Join IRT staff and cast immediately after the performance for a post-show discussion that covers a variety of interesting topics related to the show. Post-show discussions typically last for 20 minutes.

 

Multimedia


placeholder
Video: INclusion Series | The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963
placeholder
Video: The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Promo

Cast Members


XAVIER ADAMS
XAVIER ADAMS
Kenny
BRYANT BENTLEY
BRYANT BENTLEY
Daddy
Tiffany Gilliam
TIFFANY GILLIAM
Mama
Grayson Molin
GRAYSON MOLIN
Buphead
BRIAN WILSON
BRIAN WILSON
Byron
MILICENT WRIGHT
MILICENT WRIGHT
Grandma Sands
DALILA YODER
DALILA YODER
Joey

Creative Team

MIKAEL BURKE Director
REUBEN LUCASScenic & Projection Designer
ALEXIS CARRIECostume Designer
XAVIER PIERCELighting Designer
TOM HORANSound Designer

Sponsors