Stage Aurora presents Dinner with Booker T., written and performed by Darryl Reuben Hall, on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 6:30 p.m. at Worsham Hall, located at 1100 Stockton Street in Jacksonville.
Dinner with Booker T. will be presented dinner theatre style with dinner prepared by Chef DeJuan Roy, Executive Chef for the Alhambra Dinner Theatre. Admission is $45. Purchase tickets at https://stageaurora.ticketleap.com.
Dinner with Booker T. offers an inside historical look into the life of one of America’s greatest orators and leader of the Negro race, Mr. Booker T. Washington. Based on his rise from slavery, to student, to educator, to national and worldwide leader, this 60-minute work is comprised of original rhetoric, research, song, dance, speeches, historical dialogue, and visual presentations. Mr. Booker T. Washington was catapulted to national acclaim following his 1895 Atlanta Exposition Compromise Speech.
Darryl Reuben Hall takes the audience on a journey into the life of Booker T. Washington by portraying the many friends and enemies that kept him strong in the fight for equality. Here’s what Hall had to say about Dinner with Booker T.
What inspired this production?
DRH: Dinner with Booker T. is derived from Stage Aurora’s original play ‘The Dinner’ that premiered in the Midtown International Theatre Festival of Manhattan and received very favorable reviews. Afterwards, the work was submitted to the National Black Theatre Festival and they asked would I consider presenting it as a one-person show. Of course, the answer was yes. Additional rewrites took place to key in on Booker T. Washington’s early years, education, and rise to becoming the leader and Founder of Tuskegee Institute.
Why is this production so appealing?
DRH: Booker T. Washington was one of this country’s most notable leaders. Dinner with Booker T. is a look at his life through 14-characters in this one-man show as I tell of Mr. Washington’s many accomplishments. The characters include an 80-year old Slave, Mrs. Viola Ruckner, wife a General Ruckner who was strict with her servants including Booker T., Head Schoolteacher, United States Officer, Senators James K. Vardaman and Ben Tillman, and largely Booker T. Washington. This one-man show also engages song and dance in carrying Mr. Washington’s journey ‘Up from Slavery to the White House’. It’s a period piece that begins somewhere near the late 1800s to the early 1900s. What audiences will find striking is much of the script is comprised of actual historical documents, letters, and speeches making certain language used very shocking.
What do you hope audiences will take away from seeing this production?
DRH: A very clear understanding of strength and perseverance. From every circumstance that some may deem as poverty stricken or challenging, Mr. Washington never fretted but chose to use the opportunity as fuel to move forward. At quick glance, Mr. Washington was born a slave and had to sleep atop bundles of filthy rags laid across a dirt ground bed. Later into his teens, he heard of a new school over in Virginia that allowed Negro kids to get an education. He devised a plan to go to Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute. Mr. Washington started on his way to reach Hampton and due to a lack of funds could not afford a room so he chose to sleep on the ground.
Anything else you’d like to add?
DRH: Some may find the use of the N-word offensive but it’s used in historical accuracy. This is an inspiring work. To learn of Mr. Washington’s mind and bravery and for him to have his students make the actual bricks and build the early school buildings of what was to become Tuskegee Institute is astonishing. Mr. Washington not only encouraged people to work with their hands but he encouraged the growth of what were Historical Black Colleges and Universities.
For tickets and more information, please contact Stage Aurora Theatrical Company at (904) 765-7373 or visit Brothers 2000 (904) 768-6004 located at 5238-1 Norwood Avenue, Jacksonville, FL 32208. You may also purchase tickets at https://stageaurora.ticketleap.com.