This one-man play begins with an introduction to Donnie's all-white neighborhood. Jimmy, a popular kid, tells a scary story--one that makes sure his 'ghosts' are black. False perceptions about 'The Nigras' take hold.
Next we meet Mama, a soft, gentle woman who must deal with not only the challenge of having an alcoholic husband, but bringing up her four children in a tiny rental house that is loaded with "them nasty waterbugs."
Daddy uses his domineering presence to teach Donnie about whites' superiority over blacks. But at times, he shows a strikingly tender side.
Donnie's attitudes toward race are challenged when he moves from grade school to an integrated junior high. His perceptions are changed even more dramatically after he develops a crush on his classmate Diane, the first black girl he's ever known.
One afternoon, Mama surprises and then wounds Donnie by announcing the family is moving, escaping the polarized West End of Louisville and heading for the new, wondrous suburbs.
Donnie, angered by the reality of losing his friend Diane, confronts Jimmy for his racism, and the 'white flight' it has produced.
The play closes with the observation that, although Donnie's attitudes had been changed, the battle against bigotry continues as a war to be waged.
*'Wilson Avenue and the Land of No Return." Written by Don Ray Smith. Story by Don Ray Smith and Jou Jou Papailler. Produced and Directed by Jou Jou Papailler.
About Jou Jou: After graduating with a degree in biology from the University of Louisville, Jou Jou was discovered on a commercial shoot and has gone on to star on Sesame Street and Off-Broadway. He has directed and produced films and plays in NYC, LA, and Kentucky. Recently, he starred in the Taye Diggs Film, River Runs Red. His passion is affecting change through education and entertainment.
As integration polarized Louisville, Kentucky, further into a black and white world, white boys had to choose a side. One boy chose love. This is his story.
Don Ray Smith grew up in a West End world that was for him all-white. His "Wilson Avenue and the Land of No Return" captures a time of strict segregation and hardline attitudes in Louisville.