The genesis of Mud Row, the second production to emerge from New Play Frontiers, came with playwright Dominique Morisseau’s first visit to the Charles A. Melton Arts & Education Center in West Chester, when she met with the Center's Executive Director Kenneth Winston. The Melton Center is a community beacon, a beloved institution that has served generations. With three decades of connections and partnerships between our organizations, People’s Light has experienced first-hand the Center’s commitment to serving community and empowering the next generation.
Ken Winston and Dominique Morisseau at a reading of Mud Row hosted by The Melton Center.
For the development of this world premiere play, the Melton Center's dedicated staff, board, and community stakeholders became our gateway to the layered realities of West Chester’s East End, where the Center is based. Through the Center, Dominique (and we) met local legendary Civil Rights activists and residents, who generously shared their experiences. Through these conversations, as well as various community gatherings, sharings, and receptions at the Melton Center over six years, Mud Row took shape.
During this process, we've enjoyed much exchange and collaboration between People’s Light and the Melton Center. The theatre has welcomed students of the Center’s New Directions program to attend plays and engage in workshops, and Melton Center representatives have served as guests and panelists for our special events and discussions. Meanwhile, the Center has hosted theatre staff at various community events, town hall discussions, and organizational celebrations, as well as provided space for theatre-based activities.
A free reading of Mud Row Act I as part of our Community Matters series, May 2018
Through the evolution of Mud Row, we are fortunate to have developed meaningful connections to residents (past and present) of West Chester’s East End. We've also found a new depth of partnership—in the truest sense of the word—a partnership based on deep respect, reciprocity, mutual learning, and growth.