Ohio State Murders
With a 65-year long career as a playwright under her belt, Adrienne Kennedy finally makes her Broadway debut with Ohio State Murders. Six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald stars in the production, directed by Tony winner Kenny Leon. Check back for information on Ohio State Murders tickets as well as information on a venue, Broadway performance dates, and additional casting.
Ohio State Murders is a play about a fictional Black writer, Suzanne Alexander, who goes to deliver a talk about the violence in her writing at Ohio State University. When she arrives, she is met with a sinister mystery, one that reveals racism to be an antagonist in and of itself. Through the work, Kennedy explores the extent of just how destructive of a force racism is in the United States. Kennedy is known for her distinctive surrealist style, writing plays that lack a clear plot and instead symbolically portray historical and mythical figures to explore the Black experience. However, Ohio State Murders is less explicitly surreal, though the play still avoids a clear-cut, linear narrative and focuses on Suzanne's "process of turning memory into meaning," as Alisa Solomon, a Columbia University professor, wrote in the foreword to a collection of some of Kennedy's plays.
Kennedy is also known for writing "autobiographically inspired" work, and Ohio State Murders is no exception. In some ways, Suzanne Alexander and her experiences reflect Kennedy, herself a 1931 graduate of Ohio State University. In fact, Ohio State Murders is one of four plays that centers on the character. She Talks to Beethoven, The Film Club (a monologue), and The Dramatic Circle (a radio drama) are known, together with Ohio State Murders, as "the Alexander plays" after their common main character. Beethoven was published in 1989, and the rest came out in 1992. Kennedy also wrote a letter from Suzanne Alexander's perspective, "Letter to My Students on My Sixty-First Birthday by Suzanne Alexander," in 1992.
Ohio State Murders and the Alexander plays are just a small portion of Kennedy's theatrical canon. She has written three Obie Award-winning plays: her most famous work, Funnyhouse of a Negro, won the 1964 Obie for Distinguished Play, and June and Jean in Concert and Sleep Deprivation Chamber both won the Best New American Play Obie Award in 1996. Some of her other works include The Owl Answers, A Rat's Mass, and The Lennon Play, among many others. All this work led to Kennedy being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2008 Obie Awards and an induction into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2018.
Check back for information on tickets to Ohio State Murders on Broadway.
Audra McDonald photo credit: Allison Michael Orenstein
Ohio State Murders is an unusual look at the destructiveness of racism in the United States. When Suzanne Alexander, a fictional Black writer, returns to Ohio State University to talk about the violence in her writing, a dark mystery unravels.