NC Stage Company Brings Mr. Civil Rights to Life - TribPapers

NC Stage Company Brings Mr. Civil Rights to Life

In the NC Stage Company production, Atlanta-based actor K.P. Powell portrays the venerable civil rights activist turned Supreme Court justice. Photo courtesy of NC Stage Company.

Asheville – A one-man biographical drama, “Thurgood” will bring NC Stage Company 2023-2024 season to a close. This captivating one-man play written by George Stevens, Jr. explores Thurgood Marshall’s work and life with humor and inspiring storytelling. “Thurgood” was first performed at the Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, Connecticut, with James Earl Jones as Thurgood Marshall, and then moved to a run on Broadway with Laurence Fishburn starring as Thurgood. In the NC Stage Company production, Atlanta-based actor K.P. Powell portrays the venerable civil rights activist turned Supreme Court justice. Through his brilliant acting, Powell brings Thurgood Marshall, Mr. Civil Rights, to life on stage. The audience will be captivated for 90 minutes. However, one must be advised before attending that there will be strong language, use of racial slurs, and descriptions of violence heard. The play will run from April 26 – May 19th with both matinees and evening performances. “Thurgood” has been directed by Philip Kershaw.

Thurgood Marshall. Public domain.
Thurgood Marshall. Public domain.

This play’s production coincides with the 70th Anniversary of the Brown V. Board of Education ruling on May 17th,1954, ending legal racial segregation in America―a significant step in the continuing struggle of Black Americans for equal treatment in their own country. Marshall, as an up-and-coming lawyer, argued the case before the Court; Chief Justice Earl Warren issued a unanimous verdict, declaring that the “separate but equal” regime of segregation within public education was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Thurgood’s victories as a lawyer for the NAACP broke the color line in housing, transportation, voting, and schools. Always attentive to social inequalities, he was a courageous, and brilliant lawyer and jurist. On Oct 2, 1967, after a contentious five-day Senate hearing, Marshall was sworn in to become the Court’s 96th justice and the first African American to hold a seat on the Supreme Court, as an associate justice. He retired on October 1, 1991, died of heart failure on January 24, 1993, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetary. It is impossible to overestimate the lasting influence Thurgood Marshall has had on the racial politics of our nation.

Past Productions

The NC Stage Company is known for its artistic excellence with its off-Broadway style and use of professional Actors’ Equity Association actors. Charlie Flynn McIver, the artistic director, and his wife Angie, the producing director, have been producing thought-provoking plays at 15 Stage Lane in the heart of Asheville for the last 22 years The theatre has been twice recognized for artistic excellence by the prestigious American Theatre Wing.

Mike Wiley, a North Carolina-based actor and playwright whose compelling works of documentary theater yield rich and powerful journeys to milestones and turning points of the African American experience, has visited many times. In One Noble Journey, A Box Marked Freedom Wiley recounted the daring and miraculous quest for freedom of Elizabeth Craft and her husband William, who were born into slavery in Georgia. He brought to life the recollections of author Tim Tyson surrounding the 1970 murder of Henry “Dickie” Marrow in Oxford, NC, and the events that followed in “Blood Done, Sign My Name.” These were all shown at the NC Stage Company.

In addition, many of the delightful P.J. Wodehouse stories about Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves were produced by the NC Stage Company: Jeeves Intervenes, Jeeves at Sea, and Jeeves Saves the Day. Margaret Raether’s adaptations of the satirical 1920s Wodehouse series feature Jeeves, a competent valet tasked with solving the absurd predicaments that the rich playboy Londoner Bertie Wooster stumbles into. These British farces have highly amused NC Stage audiences over the years and are eagerly anticipated.

The upcoming season for NC Stage Company is currently being finalized, so no season announcements can be given at this time. However the 2024 Raffle winner for a Broadway Trip all expenses paid was #239, David L. The drawing was done at the closing performance of “Witch” on April 7, 2024. David has been notified and is thrilled about traveling to NYC next month to see the highly successful musicals Hamilton and Hadestown.

Ticketing Information

North Carolina Stage Company is located at 15 Stage Lane in downtown Asheville, NC. Parking is conveniently located near two city-owned parking garages: the Rankin Avenue garage and the Civic Center garage.

The performances for “Thurgood” are Wednesdays -Saturdays April 26 – May 19th at 7:30 PM, Sundays, as well as select Fridays at 2:00 PM. There are some special budget performances: Pay What You Can Friday 4/26 at 7:30 PM with $6 minimum; Half price ticket Saturday 4/27 at 7:30 PM. Regular ticket prices are $28 – $48. Student tickets are $10 with ID, and opening week specials starting at $6. To note COVID protocol: masks are optional in all spaces except for performances on 5/3 and 5/16 when they will be required. Tickets and more information are available by calling 828 239-0263 or online at