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"Dead White Males: A Year in the Trenches of Teaching"
WHERE: Davis Fine Arts Theater, West Virginia State University
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday
INFO: 304-766-5110CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Playwright William Missouri Downs sees his play "Dead White Males: A Year in the Trenches of Teaching" as a problem play, a dark comedy that deals with a complicated and contentious social issue.
Downs said, "Basically, it's about how we've empowered students, empowered parents and in doing so, disempowered teachers."
His play will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at the Davis Fine Arts Theater at West Virginia State University. Downs, a former television writer turned author and university professor, will be in attendance opening night.
He'll also give a talk Thursday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. as part of the school's Faculty Lecture Series. The program is in room 103 of the Davis Fine Arts building.
"I'll be talking about my life in Hollywood," he said.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, Downs worked as a writer for popular shows like "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," "Amen" and "My Two Dads." One of his film screenplays was even optioned by director Ron Howard, though never produced.
Twenty years ago, Downs dropped out of Hollywood, took teaching jobs at different universities and focused his efforts on theater. Since then, he has directed dozens of productions and penned several books about the stage. So far, more than a dozen of his plays have been produced.
Most of them, he said, deal with philosophical or social issues.
"I try to write plays that have a bit of philosophy or at a bare minimum criticism of society that we can laugh at," he explained.