Introduction & Overview of Trouble in Mind

This Study Guide consists of approximately 32 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Trouble in Mind.
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Trouble in Mind Summary & Study Guide Description

Trouble in Mind Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Reading on Trouble in Mind by Alice Childress.

Trouble in Mind is the first professionally produced play written by Alice Childress, a pioneering African-American playwright. Childress directed the first production of the play, which debuted on November 5, 1955, in Greenwich Mews Theatre, New York City, and ran for 91 performances. For Trouble in Mind, Childress was awarded an Obie Award in 1956 for best original Off-Broadway production, making her the first African-American woman to win an Obie. Though Trouble in Mind was award-winning and a hit with critics and audiences at the time, the production was plagued with problems, including a clash between the original director and cast that prompted Childress to take his place. This is ironic considering Trouble in Mind is about the troubled production of a fictional, anti-lynching Broadway play, Chaos in Belleville. Wiletta Mayer, the African-American lead of the Chaos, as well as the other black actors, must deal with the condescending attitude of their white director, Al Manners. Wiletta stands up to Manners and reveals his racist attitudes but faces severe consequences as a result. Trouble in Mind also had script problems.

The original production was also a three-act play with a relatively happy ending, while the published version, discussed in this entry, has only two acts and an ambiguous, though downbeat, close. Childress has said that she was not satisfied with either ending. Childress had a chance to take Trouble in Mind to Broadway, but the producers demanded too many changes that Childress felt would have compromised the play. Though Trouble in Mind was not seen on Broadway, critics have acnowledged its power. As John O. Killens writes in his essay, "The Literary Genius of Alice Childress," "In this play Childress demonstrated a talent and ability to write humor that had social impact. Even though one laughed throughout the entire presentation, there was, inescapably, the understanding that although one was having an undeniably emotional and profoundly intellectual experience, it was also political."

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This section contains 318 words
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Drama for Students
Trouble in Mind from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.