Elizabeth Van Dyke
The Ballad of
The brutal murder by two white men of 14-year-old Emmett Till, an African-American, was a pivotal moment in America's Civil Rights movement, and is here chronicled from the point of view of his family, capturing both the joy in his brief life and the tragedy of his death.
A largely bare stage is backed by a set that doubles effectively as a multiple screening area for slide projections which vividly remind us that this is 1955 in the South, place us in a car on a dirt road and allow us to witness, in blood-red silhouette, a primal illustration of man's inhumanity to man. This method of presenting Emmett's death mitigates somewhat the pain of watching, which might be close to unendurable, but does not permit us to escape the horror of this tragic event.