About the Play


About the Play

Witnessing History

Minstrel Show tells the story of the 1919 lynching of William Brown in Omaha, Nebraska, from the point of view of two itinerant African-American minstrels. The performers, having spent a night in the Douglas County Courthouse with Brown and witnessing the events of the lynching, are brought back to the courthouse to testify before an ad hoc committee. Suspicious of the committee, the minstrels at first refuse to describe the details of the lynching, instead performing scenes from their act, including comic vignettes and prison songs. Eventually, the minstrels come to realize their importance as witnesses to history, and tell the chilling story of the night-long seige on the Douglas County Courthouse that ended with the terrible murder of William Brown.

Minstrel Show was first produced in 1997 by Max Sparber and Hughston Walkinshaw for the Blue Barn Theatre in Omaha Nebraska. The first performance, directed by Laura Patridge, took place at the rotunda of the Douglas Country Courthouse, the actual site of the historic events. Subsequently, Minstrel Show has been produced in Denver (Col.), Carmel (Cal.), Queens (NY), Manhattan (NY), Long Beach (Cal.), and Colorado Springs (Col.).

About the Playwright

Max Sparber is a professional writer who currenly lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he is the theater critic for City Pages, a free newsweekly. Besides Minstrel Show, Max Sparber has authored boyElroy, which played at the Blue Barn Theatre in 1999. Sparber is also the author of Ira Aldrich, a one-man play about the first African-American performer to play Othello, and Ladies of Song, a one-woman show telling the stories of three great jazz singers.


For futher information about Minstrel Show, including information about acquiring the rights to produce the play, please email