Absinthe, one of the three winners of the 2015 Gloria Ann Barnell Peter Playwright Competition, is an original play by Joe Musso. It’s July 1900, and a race riot has engulfed New Orleans, sparked by a black man killing two white policemen. As the riot unfolds in the streets, the relationship between Grace, a genteel blind woman, and Curtis, her black house servant, unravels.
Tickets: Adults $10, Seniors $8, Students $5
Marianna Raho is a graduate of Oberlin Music Conservatory and Wells College. She has performed in cabarets, musicals, and straight plays throughout the US and the United Kingdom where she lived for several years. In previous years, she has directed The Long Strange trip of Mr. Rip Van Winkle and Blackbirds’ Garden for MOH. She currently teaches and resides in Elmira, NY.
Joe Musso lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with his wife and three dogs. He has been writing plays for over a decade and has won numerous awards, including the Great Plains Theatre conference Holland New Voices Award, the MTWorks Excellence in Playwriting Award, and the HRC Showcase Theatre W. Keith Hedrick Playwriting Award. His plays , which have been presented in numerous theatres across the US and abroad encompass a variety of styles – romantic comedy, farce, horror, absurdism, and magical realism. Many of Joe’s plays for young actors are published by Heuer Publishing and Brooklyn Publishers. Applause Theatre and Cinema Books included his play Bam! Ka-Pow! in its anthology “25 Ten-Minute Plays for Teens.”
Robert Charles, a quiet intense man, was a black activist who supported black emigration to Liberia, Africa as a response to white terrorism in the South. He read extensively and collected guns, but broke no laws. The New Orleans Race Riot of 1900 evolved as the result of Charles’ harassment by and subsequent killing of two white police officers. He fled. Not surprisingly, the following day a crowd of residents gathered and called for his lynching; numerous events of lawlessness and civil unrest occurred over the next three days as mobs of whites roamed the streets attempting to ferret him out. The mob frequently fired indiscriminately into the black community; several were killed and many injured.
The riot was exacerbated by local newspapers that reported African-Americans were to blame for the unrest. Some African-Americans provided assistance to Charles in his flight; others were sympathetic because of the growing voting and civil rights restrictions in the city long known for its racial tolerance. Ultimately, Charles was shot and his body mutilated. The rioting ended when the mayor deputized 1500 special police and requested assistance from the state militia.