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Willa Cather Foundation - Red Cloud Nebraska (NE)

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The Ensemble Theatre: "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry"

The Ensemble Theatre: "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry"

Friday, November 27, 2020 - 12:00am to Sunday, November 29, 2020 - 12:00pm
Red Cloud Opera House
413 N. Webster Street
Red Cloud 68970
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor

Based on Mildred Taylor’s classic young adult novel, the theatrical adaptation of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is the story of one family’s struggle to maintain integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice during the Jim Crow era. It is also the story of Cassie Logan, an independent girl who discovers why it is crucial for her family to own their own land. Over the course of a milestone year, Cassie learns to draw strength from her personal sense of dignity and self-respect, despite overwhelming racial injustice. The mission of Houston's Ensemble Theatre is to preserve African American artistic expression; to enlighten, to entertain, and to enrich a diverse community.


The November 6 event in the Red Cloud Opera House will be a broadcast of Ensemble Theatre's live stage production of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, followed by a live panel presentation session (via Zoom) with members of the Ensemble Theatre troupe and representatives from the Omaha Community Council for Racial Justice and Reconciliation.

The Replay Encore showing is a 3-day digital access pass to the recorded performance and panel talk. Meant to provide access for those who cannot attend the November 6 event in person, the encore is also a great school-break activity for families over the Thanksgiving weekend, November 27–29, 2020.

All proceeds from your paid ticket allow us to provide this show and classroom resources free of charge to area students and teachers.

Thank you Sponsors!

  • Rick and Barb Kudrna
  • Mid-America Arts Alliance and the National Endowment for the Arts

This project is generously funded by Mid-America Arts Alliance, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the state arts agencies of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. 

Support was also provided by Humanities Nebraska and the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Opera House programming is made possible through the support of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.

About Ensemble Theatre:

Influenced by the African American Theatre Movement of the 1960s and 70s, George Hawkins founded a black theatre company in 1976 in Houston, Texas. He observed that professional roles were few and far between for black actors, and his goal was to create a theatre that would provide diverse roles for black artists, focusing on themes about black life. Though Hawkins passed away in 1990, the Ensemble Theatre lives on and remains dedicated to the production of works portraying the African American experience. It is the oldest and largest professional African American theatre in the Southwest and it holds the distinction of being one of the nation’s largest African American theatres owning and operating its facility and producing in-house.

About Community Council for Racial Justice and Reconciliation

The Omaha Community Council for Racial Justice and Reconciliation is a network of organizations and citizens that have come together to coordinate efforts to memorialize victims of lynching in Douglas County, Nebraska, and to raise awareness of the community’s legacy of racial violence and injustice.

HEALTH PRECAUTIONS: We are following Nebraska's current directed health measure. Performances at the Red Cloud Opera House will occur with maximum attendance at 50% of rated occupancy. Most seats will be available in pairs, with a distance of six feet between each group of seats. Face coverings are to be worn at all times while inside the Opera House. Concession will not be available for this show, but patrons are welcome to bring a water bottle (no glass).

We appreciate your understanding of these protective measures now in place for the safety of our visitors and staff.


Extended Educational Performances

Extended Educational Performances
Extended Educational Performances

Given the difficulties of travel and performance, Ensemble Theatre has negotiated an extended viewing period for students and teachers. To receive a private link for viewing the performance video, please SIGN UP USING THIS FORM. The performance will be live until October 31–November 10, 2020.

Education Resources

Education Resources
Education Resources

The National Willa Cather Center and the Red Cloud Opera House provide the following activities and resources to students and teachers who read and/or watch the Ensemble Theatre production of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

The text is suggested for grades 4-8, depending on reading aptitudes; however, additional activities are offered for younger students who might only see the performance.

Activities meet both Common Core and Nebraska educational standards.

A Place for All People Exhibit

A Place for All People Exhibit
A Place for All People Exhibit

In conjunction with Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, the Red Cloud Opera House is proud to present the Smithsonian SITES poster exhibit, A Place for All People.

Organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in collaboration with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, A Place for All People highlights key artifacts that tell the rich and diverse story of the African American experience. From the child-size shackles of a slave and the clothing worn by Carlotta Walls on her first day at Little Rock Central High School to Chuck Berry’s Gibson guitar, “Maybellene,” and the track shoes worn by Olympian Carl Lewis, the exhibition presents a living history that reflects challenge, triumph, faith and hope.

The exhibit will be on view in the Red Cloud Opera House through November 2020, or online as a digital exhibit by clicking here.

Educational resources are listed below.

Educational Resources 

A Place for All People can inspire visitors to explore a wide variety of subjects, including history, geography, social connections, the cultural arts, and world culture. Here are some suggested online resources to get you started. 

National Museum of African American History and Culture 

Education Resources 

African American Legacy Recording Series 

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access (SCLDA) 

Learning Lab Learners of all ages can make discoveries across disciplines, create personalized collections, and share their ideas with others around the world. 

SCLDA has compiled a set of educational resources, lesson plans and reading lists related to African American history and culture. 

Smithsonian Magazine 

Smithsonian has written a number of articles about the specific objects highlighted in A Place for All People. You may also search for additional articles. 

Slave Cabin Set to Become Centerpiece of New Smithsonian Museum 

February 1, 2012, By Joseph Stromberg 

The Revolutionary War Patriot Who Carried This Gunpowder Horn Was Fighting for Freedom—Just Not His Own 

June 22, 2016, By Alex Palmer 

When Marian Anderson Sang at the Lincoln Memorial, Her Voice Stunned the Crowd, and Her Gold-Trimmed Jacket Dazzled 

Teaching Tolerance
Founded in 1991 by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Teaching Tolerance is an organization dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences for the nation's children. Teaching Tolerance provides free educational materials to teachers and other school practitioners in the U.S. and Canada.

The National Archives 

The National Archives lists Black history resources from national, state, regional, and local sites and those focused on military, photography, and culture. It also lists resources organized chronologically from slavery through the civil rights era. 

The Library of Congress 

The Library of Congress provides access to their extensive digital collections related to African American history. 

National Endowment for the Humanities 

In Pursuit of Freedom 

This public history project brings to life the stories of Brooklyn’s abolitionist and anti-slavery community through walking tours, interactive games and online lesson plans. 

Freedmen and Southern Society Project 

The history of Emancipation, from the letters and records of those that lived it. 

Forgotten Genius  

Against all odds, African-American chemist Percy Julian became one of the great scientists of the 20th century. Learn how his work with steroids and alkaloids led to treatments for glaucoma and rheumatoid arthritis, see the chemical structure of steroids, and listen to interviews from those who worked with him.