Arena Stage The Mead Center for American Theater MY ACCOUNT
Event Calendar

Trouble in Mind

SEP 9 – OCT 23, 2011

By Alice Childress
Directed by Irene Lewis

Featuring E. Faye Butler
Illustration by Nathan Fox

in the Kreeger

Thought Provoking Comedy

Broadway, 1957. Battle lines are drawn within a newly integrated theater company preparing to open a misguided race play on the Great White Way. As personalities and prejudices collide, lead actress Wiletta Mayer has the chance to achieve her most glorious dream, but at what cost? E. Faye Butler (Oklahoma!, Crowns) leads an ensemble cast in “a fresh, lively and cutting satire” (New York Times) that will make you laugh and make you think.

Trouble in Mind runs approximately 2 hours 15 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.


“Wry, character-rich and well-acted … percolates with cleverness and spiky humor … one of the best plays about racism ever written ... the work’s classic texture meshes superbly with the company’s expressed mission of shedding light on important American plays.”

– Washington Post

“An epic performance ... Sharply hilarious ... righteous anger and rollicking humor wrapped up in that most delectable of genres, the backstage comedy ... a breath of fresh air.”

– DC Theater Scene

“Hilarious … heart-breaking … uplifting and hopeful ... filled with warmth, humor, strength and dignity.”

- Maryland Theatre Guide

“Insightful, alternately funny and wrenching look at the soft bigotry of good intentions ... an outstanding cast … the chemistry between the actors … is palpable.”

- Washingtonian

“Hits on some issues that are as touchy today as they were
half a century ago ... a strong ensemble … While Butler is the heart and soul of the drama, the cast offers
endearing and quirky performances.”

- TalkinBroadway

“Greatly entertaining … razor-sharp …
deftly directed, artfully acted.”

– The Baltimore Sun

“Brilliant … riveting … exquisite … richly rewarding …
I can't recommend Trouble in Mind enough.”

– We Love DC

Four Stars

“Stirring … packed with hilarious banter …
Broadway could use a dose of Trouble.”

– Metro Weekly

American Voices

Irene Lewis

Irene Lewis

For years, the play Trouble in Mind, by African-American playwright Alice Childress, was recommended to me as a show that, as artistic director of CENTERSTAGE, I should produce. I had read the play several times over the years and found it to be “old-fashioned/old hat,” especially concerning the depiction  of the character of the white director. Finally, I decided to ask the opinion of an African-American actress whose judgment I have always valued. She read the play and told me that she liked it. When I asked if she found the role of the white director dated and unbelievable, she said, “No.” So I came around to the opinion that this was another case of – what should I call it – whites (me) being “out of touch” with the experiences of African-Americans. I decided to produce and direct the play at CENTERSTAGE in Baltimore. It subsequently transferred to Yale Repertory Theater. I am delighted that Molly is bringing this groundbreaking piece to Arena Stage.