Chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington and openly gay Civil Rights activist, Bayard Rustin was nearly written out of the history books. This world premiere play soars with African-American spirituals and offers a glimpse into a transformative moment for young Rustin—his 1944 prison sentence in Ashland, Kentucky. While incarcerated and targeted for his sexuality, Rustin puts his faith in nonviolent resistance to the test, illuminating what it means to be branded a "troublemaker" within a system stacked against you. People’s Light Associate Artistic Director Steve H. Broadnax III (Broadway’s Thoughts of a Colored Man) and Tony Award winner Jason Michael Webb (Choir Boy) bring you the latest work to emerge from our New Play Frontiers residency program.
Recommended for ages 17+ for explicit sexual language, brief nudity, and adult themes
Individual Sponsors: Nicole Sakowitz & Bill Pikounis
This project is supported in part by an award from
the National Endowment for the Arts
With additional support from Church Housing Corp
Join us in the Farmhouse Pavilion for a town hall-style discussion featuring guest panelists following select Thursday performances.
Thursday, May 26
Thursday, June 2
Relaxed Performances offer a judgment-free environment that invites individuals with autism, ADD, ADHD, dementia, and other sensory sensitivities to enjoy theatre in a relaxed, “shush-free” zone—a great option for parents with young children, too. For each Relaxed Performance, we offer a pre-show Sensory Tour, during which patrons are able to enter the theatre space, view the set and props, and ask questions. This RP features ASL interpretation, and audio description is available upon request.
Sunday, June 5 at 2pm
This performance features American Sign Language interpretation provided by Hands UP Productions. Audio description, provided by Nicole Sardella, is available upon request. This is also a Relaxed Performance.
Sunday, June 5 at 2pm
During every performance this week, dialogue appears on an LED screen placed near the stage to benefit patrons with hearing impairments, as well as English language learners.
Our Smart Caption Glasses offer immersive, real-time captioning for live theatre. These revolutionary glasses display a synchronized transcript of the play directly on the lenses, and are customizable for your comfort.
Glasses are available to reserve for performances of Bayard Rustin Inside Ashland May 31 - June 12.
We have extensive protocols and precautions in place for all performances to keep audiences, staff, and artists safe. In addition, the following performances will only be sold to 50% capacity to ensure extra distance between parties.
May 20 at 7:30pm
May 27 at 7:30pm
May 31 at 7:30pm
Jun 3 at 7:30pm
Jun 5 at 2pm (Relaxed Performance)
Jun 7 at 7:30pm
Jun 10 at 7:30pm
To expand access to our work, we offer 50%-off Access Nights throughout the season. The discount is automatic for this performance, no promo code required.
Tuesday, June 7 at 7:30pm
"I had the privilege to do research not only with myself and my dramaturg, but to be in [Bayard Rustin's] community. I got to see the church he grew up in, his first childhood home, his teacher’s home. I was able to go to his first college, Cheyney, and talk to the man who presided over his funeral. I had access to all these documents that no one has seen."
West Chester local historian Penny L. Washington led the Bayard Rustin Inside Ashland team on a Black history walking tour of West Chester, where Rustin grew up.
"In this play, I really wanted to highlight [Rustin's] humanity — as a same gender loving man, as an activist, he spent his entire life fighting for civil rights and justice for us ALL."
"Reggie D. White gives a stellar performance"
Reggie White talks Bayard Rustin Inside Ashland with Loraine Ballard Morrill, host of "Insight" on WDAS-FM. We recommend listening to the full episode for Loraine's insightful conversations with other community leaders, but for those who want to skip ahead, Reggie's interview begins at 17:42. Click the play button in the top left corner at the link below:
"This terrific production ... is definitely a must-see."
"The cast assembled by Broadnax is stellar"
"What a powerful and dynamic play!"
"From the musicians to the singers, it blew me off of my seat."
Interview: Steve H. Broadnax III and Reggie D. White on A.D. Amorosi's Theater in the Round (PhillyCAM WPPM)
"There was just such a weight for me to step up to the plate. . . I take [that weight] very seriously, and I want to do the man and his name and his story with such justice, and dignity, and humanity, and the love that he stood for." — Steve H. Broadnax III
"Giving homage to an iconic gay man of color who paved the way for civil rights is invaluable and exciting. I look forward to sharing this story at People’s Light as part of our exploring the breadth and vitality of Pennsylvania’s rich cultural heritage." — Steve H. Broadnax III