Solo Theater Performance, Workshop Oct. 16 Mark LGBT History, Diversity Awareness

OXFORD, Miss. – A monodrama performance and workshop on documentary theater are scheduled Oct. 16 at the University of Mississippi to recognize October as LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) History Month and National Diversity Awareness Month. The events are free to the public.

Guest artist and scholar E. Patrick Johnson, professor of African-American studies and professor and chair of performance studies at Northwestern University, will perform “Pouring Tea: Black Gay Men of the South Tell Their Tales” at 7 p.m. in Meek Auditorium. (In black gay communities, “tea” refers to gossip.)

Johnson composed his monodrama from the oral histories of African-American gay men in the southeastern United States, collected in his book “Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South” (UNC-Chapel Hill Press, 2008). Traveling to every Southern state between 2004 and 2006, Johnson conducted interviews with more than 70 black gay men between the ages of 19 and 93.

At noon in Johnson Commons Ballroom, Johnson will present a free, public workshop on documentary theater. Lunch will be served to those who RSVP by Wednesday, Oct. 13, at

Johnson’s UM visit is sponsored by the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies. His theater performance is co-sponsored by the Lafayette-Oxford-University chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and Arts South, and is funded by a grant from the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council. His performance is also held in conjunction with the One Book, One Community initiative, sponsored by University Libraries.

“Because Johnson illuminates a unique dimension of Southern identity, his performance will have broad appeal for people especially interested in the South, said Mary Carruth, Isom Center director. “Johnson is multitalented as both an accomplished scholar and artist. We are delighted he will conduct a workshop on documentary theater – open to all – as well as perform his popular show.”

In his performance, Johnson uses particular techniques to detract the audience’s focus from himself to the stories. For example, he says he does not embody the narrators, but instead focuses on their voices, which he tries to perfect as closely as possible.

“I play the clip of the original interview, so that the audience can hear the narrator speak in his own voice,” he said. “I also include the questions that I asked each narrator in the performance so that the audience does not fully suspend disbelief.” (For more information about Johnson and his show, see

Johnson, who was born and reared in Hickory, N.C., has performed “Sweet Tea” at colleges, universities and theaters across the U.S. In 1996, the city council of his hometown proclaimed July 20 as “E. Patrick Johnson Day” in honor of his being the first African-American born and reared in Hickory to receive a Ph.D.

An alumnus of the University of North Carolina, Johnson completed his doctorate in 1996 at Louisiana State University. His other scholarly work on race and performance theory includes “Black Queer Studies” (Duke University Press, 2005) and “Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity” (Duke University Press, 2003).

For more information about the Isom Center, visit For assistance related to a disability, call 662-915-5916.