World Premiere: Citizen James, or the Young Man Without a Country

By Kyle Bass, Directed by Joann Yarrow

Virtually touring middle and high schools this spring is our Backstory production, a world premiere piece written by our own associate artistic director Kyle Bass.

Meet a 24-year-old James Baldwin at LaGuardia Airport. Young James is an unknown aspiring “Negro” writer whose first novel has yet to be published. He awaits his flight, having just left his family with the news of his decision to flee America for refuge in Paris. He speaks no French. He has a one-way ticket and $40 in his pocket.

Witness James Baldwin as he decides he must do something to save himself from the violent reality of racist America in 1948, a decision that sets him on the path to becoming a brilliant, powerful, and prophetic voice of the Civil Rights era and beyond. More than a one-man show, Citizen James is a bridge that connects the past to our now.

Interested in bringing Backstory: Citizen James, or the Young Man Without a Country to your school? Contact associate director of education Kate Laissle at

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