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The Nacirema Society Requests the Honor of Your Presence at a Celebration of Their First One Hundred Years

Full Length, Comedy
1 man, 8 women
Total Cast: 9, Flexible Set
ISBN-13: 978-0-8222-2952-0


MIN. PERFORMANCE FEE: $105 per performance.
THE STORY: In the winter of 1964, ten years after the Montgomery bus boycott, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is planning a massive voter registration drive that promises to put the city back at the center of the Civil Rights Movement. Among those watching closely is Grace Dunbar, pillar of Montgomery’s African-American aristocrats and doyenne of the Nacirema Society, an organization poised to celebrate its 100th anniversary by presenting an exclusive group of debutantes at their annual cotillion. Assisting Grace is her lifelong friend, Catherine, who hopes the cotillion will prompt her grandson to propose to Grace’s granddaughter. Of course, neither woman considers the fact that their grandchildren have their own plans. The anticipation is overshadowed by the arrival of Alpha Campbell, daughter of the Dunbar family’s late maid. Alpha has plans to blackmail the Dunbars into financing her own daughter’s education. But Alpha’s story is closer to the truth than anyone could have imagined, and Alpha is surprised. So is Janet Logan, a visiting reporter from The New York Times who finds herself in the middle of a story that Grace will do anything to suppress.
“It’s always intriguing to discover a social enclave seldom depicted…Cleage realizes her theme’s rich potential through clever plotting, smart dialogue and beautifully delineated characters.” —Houston Chronicle.

“It’s so rare when a new play makes an impression that when it does, you feel like you’re walking on air. Pearl Cleage’s romantic comedy…makes you giddy. It’s a singular pleasure. What gives this lighter-than-air play such reverberation is that we’ve hardly ever seen Cleage’s subject on stage. That she delineates it with such wit, charm and substance only adds to the enjoyment. Her characters are upper-crust African-Americans in 1964 Montgomery, Alabama. The Dunbars and the Greens are doctors, lawyers, college-educated, successful, and proud of it. They’ve been pillars of society for decades and plan to stay that way…Cleage’s comedy is as warm as a Southern evening and we bask in the play’s moonlit maternal glow and laugh with those indelible characters. Every now and then this tired world needs a gentle prod of sweet romance. Nothing wrong with that.” —Houston Press.