Down in Mississippi

March 23 – April 8, 2017

Thursday – Saturday at 7:30 pm
Sunday, April 2nd, at 2:00 pm

at East Side Freedom Library
1105 Greenbrier St, East Saint Paul, MN

Tickets: Pay What You Can
Tickets available at the door on a first come, first served basis.
Questions? Call 651-230-3294.

Down in Mississippi takes place during the Freedom Summer campaign to register African-Americans to vote in the dangerous, segregated world of Mississippi in 1964. It explores the transformational experiences of three young civil rights activists who leave their safe northern homes to go down to Mississippi to try to change the world and discover that before they can change the world they will have to change themselves. A celebration of a movement that gave birth to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voter’s Rights Act of 1965.

Performances will take place promenade-style in the reading room of the East Side Freedom Library where the audience will both surround and be immersed in events of the past that resonate with the state of our current social and political tensions. Our intention is not only to make a little known history more accessible, but to also generate a conversation between the past and the present, to encourage young people concerned with racism today to consider the personal and political motivations and the struggles of their counterparts a half a century ago. Collateral programs have been designed to deepen the conversations with screening of two films, Let Freedom Sing and Freedom on My Mind, along with panels with a mix of civil rights movement veterans and contemporary activists. See the “Events” section below for details.

This production of Down in Mississippi is a partnership with Carlyle Brown & Company and the East Side Freedom Library, a non-profit organization in an historic Carnegie Library with a focus on immigration, labor, African American and social justice history. Down in Mississippi was originally commissioned by the Theater Department in the School of Fine Arts and the Center for American and World Cultures, Miami University in Ohio, home of Western Women’s College where Freedom Summer activists were trained in non-violence and made ready to face the dangerous world of Mississippi in 1964. Down in Mississippi was developed with support from the Playwrights’ Center and the Guthrie Theater.

Written by Carlyle Brown
Directed by Noël Raymond


Mikell Sapp as Jimmy
Tony Sarnicki as John
Adelin Phelps as Ellen
Mari Harris as singer / Fanny Lou Hamer


Amy Finch – Keyboard/ Arranger
Jeff Milligan-Toffler – Guitarist

Designers & Crew

Lighting design by Mike Wangen
Sound design by C. Andrew Mayer
Costume design by Clare Brauch
Prop design & instillation art by Kellie Larson
Stage Management by April Harding

In conjunction with performances of Down in Mississippi, join East Side Freedom Library for the screening of two films that add to the conversation about the history of civil rights and music in the American South. Both events are free and open to the public.

Let Freedom Sing

March 27 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Let Freedom Sing: How Music Inspired the Civil Rights Movement (2009) is a documentary about the singers and musicians who stood up against inequality and racism, and gave the civil rights movement its anthems and its soul.

Freedom on My Mind

April 3 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Freedom on My Mind (1994) is a documentary that chronicles the story of Freedom Summer in Mississippi. The film vividly tells the complex history of the Mississippi voter registration struggles of 1961 to 1964: the interracial nature of the campaign, the tensions and conflicts, the fears and hopes.

The film won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary in 1994 at the Sundance Film Festival, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

We need your help to produce DOWN IN MISSISSIPPI

Dear Friends,

Our new play, Down in Mississippi, speaks to our troubling times from 50 years ago where young people, black and white, from all over the country came together and put their lives on the line to register Negros to vote in Mississippi. They believed that the right to vote could change the world. They were non-violent combatants in a war for justice, a struggle that clearly continues to this day.

Down in Mississippi endeavors to make a contribution to that struggle by telling a story about what it means to be an activist, what it means to resist.

We are seeking your support to help us bring this story into the world. Whatever you can give–in any amount, large or small–towards our goal of $6,200 will make a difference:

Make a donation today.

With thanks,

Mari Harris on Down in Mississippi


Down in Mississippi Cast


Down in Mississippi – Carlyle Brown & Co. Video Appeal.


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