Trouble In Mind

About the Play

First Production

Greenwich Mews Theatre, New York (1955)

Cast Breakdown
3F, 6M
Comedy, Drama,
Two Acts

 Anthologized in Plays by American Women: 1930-1960. Judith Barlow, ed. New York: Applause Theatre Books, 2001 and Selected Plays by Alice Childress. Kathy A. Perkins, ed. Chicago: Northwestern UP, 2011.


A scathing indictment of racism in American commercial theatre, Trouble in Mind tells the story of Wiletta Mayer, an African-American actress cast in a supposedly “progressive” play about racism by a white male author—it turns out to be anything but progressive, both in terms of its script and rehearsal environment.


Trouble in Mind was Childress’ first full-length play; it was optioned for Broadway, but after two years of rewriters, Childress refused to tone down her message for mainstream audiences. The play opened off-Broadway at Greenwich Mews Theatre. Arthur Gelb of the New York Times called it a “fresh, funny, lively and cutting satire,” while critic Harry Raymond declared it “a sparkling drama of protest…. which bubbles with humor and at the same time has deep meaning.”

Scenes from the Play

Trouble in Mind, End of Act I
Wiletta and Henry commiserate about feeling rage as a part of one's social identity and Wiletta decides definitively to pursue being an actress.  View Scene

Trouble in Mind, Scene 1
Wiletta, a theater actress, gives a few pointers to John, a newcomer to New York, as they wait to go in for an audition with a white director.  View Scene

About the Playwright

Alice Childress
Alice Childress
Alice Childress (1912-1994) was an actress, novelist, and playwright. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, she moved to Harlem at age five, where she was raised by her grandmother. Alice’s grandmother encouraged her love of writing, and Alice found inspiration in her family’s stories as well as the lives of the people around her. In particular, the stories she heard at weekly church events inspired her to focus on the lives of urban African-Americans. Alice developed a passion for theatre and at…
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One Play at a Time Participating Universities

Maya Cantu
Bennington College
Paula Cizmar
University of Souther California
Philip Dawkins
Loyola University, Chicago
Jacqueline Goldfnger
University of the Arts
Lisa Hodge Kander
Wayne State University
Lindsay Brandon Hunter
University at Buffalo, SUNY
Hillary Miller
Cal State University Northridge
Evan Mueller
Western Washington University
Ann White
Michigan State University
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