Actor Phil Darius Wallace returned to campus Tuesday night to perform his one man play titled “Martin Luther King Jr. from the Heart of a King” at the Reece Museum.
The free event was sponsored by ETSU’s Department of History’s African and African American Studies Program.
The Michigan native first wrote the play while he was a member of the Flint Michigan Youth Theater Company.
Along with the play on Martin Luther King Jr., Wallace has written two additional one man plays on Malcolm X and poet Frederick Douglas.
He now performs the plays with his own theater company, Circle 7 Productions.
Wallace also wrote, directed and acted in the film, “100 Lives” in 2009.
After a brief introduction by AFAM director and history professor Dorothy Drinkard-Hawkshawe, Wallace began with a song before briefly introducing himself and the play.
The 40 minute show “depicts the power of spoken word and nonviolent acts”, along with narrating King’s life beginning with his childhood and ending with his death.
Wallace included songs, spoken word poetry and dance to tell the story of King’s life and legacy while fully engaging with the audience.
Wallace played many characters including the roles of King’s father, grandmother and Malcolm X.
The research that went into creating the dialogue in “From The Heart of the King” was apparent and provided the audience accurate information on King’s life and the civil rights movement.
The play also touched on King’s relationship with Malcolm X. Both civil rights activists realized during the civil rights movement that the battle was a lot more than a just race issue, it included those in poverty and those who were being mistreated in the workplace.
“It [Civil Rights Movement] became greater than just black versus white. It was oppressed versus the oppressor,” Wallace said.
Wallace then took the audience to the night that King died in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968.
On April 3, King gave his famous “I Have Been to the Mountaintop” speech. Those that knew King and were there for that speech observed that something about King was “off.” They also felt that King knew that his time left on Earth would be coming to an end soon.
Wallace said spectators recall that the speech felt, “As if he was preaching the fear out of his own soul.”
Wallace’s talent in storytelling kept the audience engaged and gave them a new perspective on King and the Civil Rights Movement.
Several professors in attendance commented on how they would like to teach in the same format as Wallace’s play.
For more information on Wallace, his one man plays and his theater company, visit phildariuswallace.com.