Notes: The World Beyond the Hill: the Life and Times of W.E.B. Du Bois


Director’s Notes:

This is the ninth show we have done in the three years of the high school. In the past we have done shows based on interviews with members of the community (People Talk), anthology material (Animalia), original work by students (The Tennis Court Oath Daytime Drama Spectacle Parade), as well as combinations of plays, and plays that involve formal language. This show has elements of each of these, either in forming the material or in discovering the action of the play.

A kid from Great Barrington graduates from the top of his class and goes on to become one of the great thinkers and activists of our time. He is the town’s first river advocate, writes twenty-three books and thousands of articles, in varying styles and genres, and makes significant contributions to the fields of sociology and philosophy. He lays the groundwork for the civil rights movement and is consulted by leaders of movements and nations. He is black and outspoken, and naturally falls afoul of the Joe McCarthys and J. Edgar Hoovers of the time. He is hounded and blacklisted, discredited to such an extent that even his own hometown remains largely mute about its preeminent native son.

I remember my first arrival in the Berkshires by bus, passing a small sign about DuBois near a grove of trees. I never found the sign again, and thought it must have been my imagination, until I was asked to join the school’s celebration of his work. Since then many of us have begun to see traces of DuBois everywhere, patiently revealed by a small number of people who have long cherished his memory. If we can share a small part of the bittersweet joy of this discovery, that will count as a good thing.

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