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The College of Arts Sciences

Godfrey L. Simmons Jr. publishes documentary play about President Obama election

By: Lindsey White,  Department of Performing and Media Arts
May 17, 2018

After the 2008 election of President Barack Obama, Cornell Department of Performing and Media Arts senior lecturer Godfrey L. Simmons Jr., a 42-year-old black man, and Brandt Adams ’06, a 25-year-old white man, discovered they were nagged by the “race question.”

“On one hand it felt great, especially as Brandt worked on that campaign and I never thought a black man would ever get elected in my lifetime,” said Simmons. “But then it hit both of us—what do we do now? This is new territory here and we know there are forces out there who did not want it to happen. How do we deal with that and still go about the job of governing and running a country?”

Motivated by a desire to better understand the significance of America’s election of its first African-American President, Simmons and Brandt conducted 100 interviews throughout the South in the month before Obama’s inauguration.

The interviews became the basis for Simmons and Adams’ play Dispatches from (A)mended America. In 2012, Epic Theatre Ensemble produced an Off-Broadway production of the play. Recently, independent theatre publisher NoPasspost Press published the play in Epic Plays 2, an anthology edited by Chiori Miyagawa and Emily Mendelsohn. Epic Plays 2 is the second volume of an anthology of large cast plays in multiple settings published by NoPassport Press

On Thursday, May 17, at 5:00 p.m., Simmons will read from the anthology at Buffalo Street Books, located at 215 N. Cayuga St. in Ithaca, NY.

Godfrey Simmons