Alumnus presents ‘Don’t Look Black’

Nashville actors will read the latest work of Preston Crowder ’12 in February during Tennessee Playwrights Studio’s Virtual Reading Festival. Click here for tickets.
By Juanita I.C. Traughber, Communications Director

University School of Nashville alumnus Preston Crowder ’12 continues to bring attention to social justice issues and share his perspective on current events through his plays. His latest work will be read Friday, February 5 at 7:30 p.m. Central. Developed during monthly workshops with Tennessee Playwrights Studio, “Don’t Look Black” features Nashville actors and is free and open to the public. 

In the play, a group of white friends is enthused after being given a chance to participate in a Black immersion experience. What they figure will be an opportunity to play in their harmful stereotypes quickly turns into a house of nightmares as they are shown the true magic of blackness. 

No stranger to the stage, Crowder, who studied theater and African studies at Oberlin College, wrote 45 plays while a student at USN, including the book for a full-length musical. After graduating from college, he returned to USN in 2016 to present “Flames” and ignite a discussion on race relations and police brutality. It was the first production at USN to feature an all-Black cast. “Flames” brought Nashvillians inside the living room of a Black police officer whose teenage son and friend were enraged by a police reaction to a jay-walker, which led to protests and riots around the city. The one-act play in the Auditorium was followed by a panel discussion featuring Nashville civic leaders.

Devoted to social justice and activism, Crowder said he aims to create plays that create conversation and address issues facing people of all backgrounds. The Juilliard School presented Crowder’s “Break Your Chains” in 2017. He is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in playwriting at The New School.

TPS is a playwright-development lab and theater-production company founded in 2018 by Kenley Smith and Molly Breen to offer in-state playwrights the opportunity to develop fresh, incisive scripts that reflect a changing world.

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