Thomas Wolfe is best known as a novelist, the author of such books as "Look Homeward Angel" and "You Can Never Go Home Again." But early in his short life, he wrote a play, Welcome to Our City, while a student in George Pierce Baker's "47 Workshop" at Harvard University. Some 77 years after the drama was written -- and just in time for the centennial of Wolfe's birth -- Off-Broadway's Mint Theatre has given City its New York City premiere, kicking off the company’s 2000-01 season, opening Sept. 8. (Wolfe's birthday was Oct. 3). The mounting, which received widely mixed reviews, ends as scheduled Oct. 8.
The production will kick off the Mint's 2000-2001 season.
Welcome to Our City takes place in the town of Altamount, where the white village leadership attempt to evict the residents of a black district in order to seized the land, raze the houses and erect a new white residential area. But the blacks dig in their heels and the result is a race riot.
Because of the work's incendiary nature, Wolfe's never found a major producer. The play was staged only twice: once, in 1923, for two performances, by Harvard students; and in Zurich in 1962, in a German translation. On both occasions, the black roles were played by white actors in blackface.
Jonathan Bank directs a cast of 19. Tickets are $19. The Mint is located at 311 W. 43rd Street in Manhattan. For information, call (212) 315-0231.
--By Robert Simonson