Carlyle Brown

Plays written by Carlyle Brown



Abe Lincoln and Uncle Tom in the White House – (2M 2W) A play about slavery and freedom by Carlyle Brown imagines a worried Lincoln talking about the Emancipation Proclamation with fictional slave, Uncle Tom, from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” In “Abraham Lincoln and Uncle Tom in the White House,” the slave tries to understand the world outside the novel while Lincoln endeavors to discover the aspirations of black Americans.

American Family – (3M 4W) The story focuses on a family torn apart by the persistently thorny issues of race relations in America, specifically grappling with interracial love and marriage in the mid-1960s South — a time when such relationships were still illegal in many states.

Boundary Waters – (5M) George Bonga is a fur trader and Voyageur of the Boundary Waters, living on the boundaries of Black, White, and Ojibwe. In the winter of 1837, over the course of five days and six nights George Bonga tracks down an Ojibwe man accused of murdering a white man at the trading post on Cass Lake. Is Bonga really tracking down a murderer or is he chasing his own demons?

Dartmoor Prison – (13M) During the War of 1812 the British navy impressed thousands of American sailors. A large number refused to serve the British and were sent to Dartmoor Prison. Of those that were sent there, a large number were black sailors. These men were segregated and had their own section of the jail – which they soon took charge of.

Down in Mississippi – (2M 1W) A gospel play with music, Down in Mississippi explores the heart of the Civil Rights Movement, as three college students – an African-American man, a white woman and a white man – travel to the dangerous world of Mississippi in 1964 to register Negro voters. Along the way, they discover that they have to change themselves in order to change the world.

The Negro of Peter the Great – (9M 6W) Peter the Great has an African Prince kidnapped and brought to Russia.

Nobody, No Time – (4/5M 2W) A play with music that looks inside one of the most complex and conflicted figures in the Vaudeville era.

Are You Now or Have You Ever Been.. (6M) Set in Harlem in 1953, on the eve of appearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on un-American Activities, Langston Hughes can’t sleep. So he begins to write a poem. Exposed, guilt-ridden and fearful of the coming day, he confesses how he intends to answer Sen. Joseph McCarthys accusations on being a Communist. As he tells the story of what hes written and why, interrupted by flashes of inspiration, the poem begins to grow as a thing with a life of its own. Together, Hughes and his poem reveal a portrait of an artist faced with his fears and regrets before the greatest ordeal of his life.


Carlyle Brown is a writer/performer and artistic director of Carlyle Brown & Company based in Minneapolis, which has produced The Masks of Othello: A Theatrical Essay, The Fula From America: An African Journey, Talking Masks, Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been… and Therapy and Resistance. His plays include The African Company Presents Richard III, The Little Tommy Parker Celebrated Colored Minstrel Show, Buffalo Hair, The Beggars’ Strike, The Negro of Peter the Great, Pure Confidence, A Big Blue Nail, Dartmoor Prison and others. He has received commissions from Arena Stage, the Houston Grand Opera, the Children’s Theatre Company, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Goodman Theater, Miami University of Ohio and the University of Louisville. He is recipient of playwriting fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, McKnight Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, Jerome Foundation, Theatre Communications Group and the Pew Charitable Trust. Mr. Brown has been artist-in-residence at New York University School of the Arts Graduate Acting Program, The James Thurber House in Columbus, and Ohio State University Theater Department where he directed his music drama, Yellow Moon Rising. He has been a teacher of expository writing at New York University; African-American literature at the University of Minnesota; playwriting at Ohio State University and Antioch College; African American theater and dramatic literature at Carlton College as the Benedict Distinguished Visiting Artist, and “Creation and Collaboration” at the University of Minnesota Department of Theater. He has worked as a museum exhibit writer and story consultant for the Charles Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, and the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage in Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Brown is a core alumnus of the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis and he is an alumnus of New Dramatists in New York. He has served on the board of directors of The Playwrights’ Center and Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the non-profit professional theater and is a member of the board of the Jerome Foundation. He is a member of the Charleston Jazz Initiative Circle at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina where his works and papers are archived. He is the 2006 recipient of The Black Theatre Network’s Winona Lee Fletcher Award for outstanding achievement and artistic excellence, a 2008 Guggenheim Fellow, a 2010 recipient of the Otto Rene’ Castillo Award for Political Theatre, and 2010 United States Artists Friends Fellowship.

* Please note that some titles are handled by Dramatists Play Service, Samuel French, Dramatic Publishing, Broadway Play Publishing, and  Please ask if you don’t see a particular play.