Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Oct. 5: Meet Award Winning Playwright J.E. Franklin at Booksigning for ‘To Break Every Yoke’ at Castillo Theatre

je franklinNew Federal Theatre in association with Castillo Theatre is presenting a special booksigning event with award winning playwright, J.E. Franklin for her new book, To Break Every Yoke, on Sunday, October 5, 2014, at Castillo Theatre, 543 West 42nd Street, NY from 2:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M. For more information call 212-353-1176.

The fours works presented in To Break Every Yoke, are about freedom: breaking free, staying free, and helping others to freedom. A college student travels south to do her part in making Dr. King’s dream of freedom for everyone a reality; a mother struggles for over two decades to free her blind son from bondage; a white man finds himself entrapped in the racial laws of the nation’s One-Drop Theory; a high school drop-out tries to break free from negative family forces to pursue her dream of being a dancer.

The familiar characters may make you laugh, but they may also make you cry; the questions raised may provoke, but they may also stir your imaginations and challenge long-held views. Hopefully, they will leave all of us with a broader understanding of our predicament and of ways in which we may address.

Bio Source:

J.E. Franklin is a writer, playwright, and educator. Jennie Elizabeth Franklin was born in Houston, Texas; she began writing her impressions as a child and received a BA from the University of Texas. She was a primary school teacher in the Freedom School in Carthage, Mississippi (1964); served as a youth director at the Neighborhood House in Buffalo, New York (1964–1965); worked as an analyst in the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity in New York City (1967–1968); and was a lecturer in education at the Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York (1969–1975).

In 1964, while working with CORE in Mississippi, she engaged in an effort designed to interest students in reading. Her techniques led to her playwrighting career and her first full-length play, A First Step to Freedom (1964), which was performed in Harmony, Mississippi, at Sharon Waite Community Center. Other produced plays include Prodigal Daughter, a street theater project performed at Lincoln Center and on a Bronx street corner; The In-Crowd (1965), performed at the Montreal Expo in 1967; Mau Mau Room, performed by the Negro Ensemble Company Workshop; Two Flowers, produced at the New Feminist Theatre; and The Prodigal Sister, produced at Theatre de Lys (1976). The last was a musical, with book and lyrics by Franklin and music by Micki Grant, about an unwed mother-to-be who leaves home to escape parental displeasure; this was her second major New York production.

However, it was the play Black Girl (1971) that earned her acclaim and a following; it later became a movie with Ossie Davis as director and Franklin as screenwriter. Initially, the play was produced by Woodie King, Jr., at the New Federal Theatre and later moved to the Theatre de Lys. It ran for an entire season, and each performance opened to a full and enthusiastic house. It is the story of Billie Jean, the baby of the family, who is a high school dropout with talent and the desire to become a ballet dancer, and of her family’s attempt to thwart her advancement. It is a deceptively simple play that addresses intraracial oppression, family dynamics, choices, and becoming.

In addition to her produced plays, Franklin has many unpublished and unproduced works. She has contributed articles to periodicals and written a book entitled Black Girl, from Genesis to Revelations (1977), which details the writing of the play, her confrontation with the theater world, and the pains and promises of converting the play into a television production and later a film.

Franklin’s talent has been rewarded with the Media Women Award (1971); the New York Drama Desk Most Promising Playwright Award (1971); the Institute for the Arts and Humanities Dramatic Award from Howard University (1974); the Better Boys Foundation Playwrighting Award (1978); the Ajabei Children’s Theater Annual Award (1978); the National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship (1979); and the Rockefeller Grant (1980). In her works, she is realistic, presents multifaceted African American life from a female perspective, and demonstrates her belief that the theater should educate, be socially aware, and present feelings and options to the viewers.

Other articles by Lia Chang
Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion, On View September 26, 2014 – April 19, 2015 at New York Historical Society
Rome Neal Seriously Injured in Fall; Fundraisers Set at The Five Spot on October 12 and the Nuyorican Poets Cafe on November 6
Sept. 27: Yuri Kochiyama Memorial Service at First Corinthian Baptist Church in New York
TCG’s SPARK Leadership Program Class of 2014: Victor Maog, Nelson T. Eusebio III, Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr, Snehal Desai, Deena Selenow, Jacob G. Padrón, Jr., Karena Fiorenza Ingersoll, Kelvin Dinkins, LaTeshia Dezelle Ellerson, Lisa Portes
Video: Jeremy Lin Pranks Visitors at Madame Tussauds San Francisco
Sept. 5 – Oct. 5: Nicole Ari Parker, Esau Pritchett, Thom Sesma, Everett Quinton and More Set for Antony and Cleopatra at McCarter Theatre
Sept. 30 – Nov. 2: André de Shields, Adam Chanler-Berat, Kevin Mambo, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Kyle Beltran & More Set for THE FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE at The Public 
Oct. 8 – 12: 2014 National Asian American Theater Conference & Festival Lineup
Oct. 10-12: Dan Kwong’s WHAT? NO PING-PONG BALLS? with Kenny Endo at Interact Theatre Company as part of 2014 National Asian American Theater Festival and Conference
David Henry Hwang and Lynn Nottage Appointed to the Playwriting Faculty of Columbia University School of the Arts Theatre Program
Photos & Video: The Wiz’s André De Shields Sang “So You Wanted to Meet the Wizard” in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream at Carnegie Hall 
Joe Mantegna to Helm ‘Criminal Minds’ Season 10 Episode to Honor the late Meshach Taylor
Photos: Maxine Hong Kingston, Billie Tsien, Bill T. Jones, Linda Ronstadt, John Kander, Julia Alvarez, Jeffrey Katzenberg Receive 2013 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama 
Golden Globe Winner James Shigeta, Veteran of Film and TV, Dies at 85; Excerpts of 2007 A/P/A Institute Q & A with Sukhdev Sandhu 
Photos: Artist Arlan Huang, One Brush Stroke at a Time
Late Night Singing with Garth Kravits at 54 Below with The Skivvies, at Jim Caruso’s Cast Party at Birdland and Michael Raye’s Soul Gathering 
Photos and Video: Ben Vereen Performs at Carnegie Hall in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream 
Photos and Video: Obba Babatunde and cast members from the original cast of Dreamgirls perform at Carnegie Hall in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream
Joe Mantegna, Delta Burke, Gerald McRaney, President Bill Clinton and More Remember Meshach Taylor
Photos: Meshach Taylor Celebrates 67th Birthday with Arlene and Joe Mantegna, Delta Burke, Gerald McRaney, Jean Smart, Dennis Franz, Ernie Hudson, John Heard, Keith Szarabajka, Stuart Gordon, Shadoe Stevens and More
Bryan Cranston, Audra McDonald, Neil Patrick Harris, Jessie Mueller, Lena Hall, Sophie Okonedo, Kenny Leon, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, All The Way, A Raisin in the Sun, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and More Take Home 2014 Tony Awards 
Crafting a Career
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang Photo by GK

Lia Chang Photo by GK

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, and made her jazz vocalist debut in Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz “LADY” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York. She is profiled in Jade Magazine.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2014 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at


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