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'Scottsboro Boys' Subverts Theatrical Tradition To Tell Story Of Civil Rights12:00

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Wakeem Jones and members of the cast of SpeakEasy Stage's production of The Scottsboro Boys. (Nile Hawver / Nile Scott Shots)closemore
Wakeem Jones and members of the cast of SpeakEasy Stage's production of The Scottsboro Boys. (Nile Hawver / Nile Scott Shots)

In 1931, nine African-American teenagers were falsely accused of raping two white women in Alabama. Over the course of two decades, they were found guilty, over and over again in the Jim Crow South, despite the women later recanting.

In 2010, their story became a musical... with a surprising soundtrack. The music mimics that of a minstrel show, a popular form of theater in the 1800s before slavery was abolished. These shows were performed by whites in blackface, lampooning African-Americans. The musical uses this tradition to often uncomfortably, highlight the stereotypes and racial prejudice that put the boys in prison.

The Scottsboro Boys is playing through Nov. 26 at the SpeakEasy Stage Company.

Guest

David Thompson, librettist for The Scottsboro Boys, now playing at the SpeakEasy Stage Company, which tweets @SpeakEasyStage.

This story aired on October 27, 2016.

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