New York | 1h 25m | Already closed

Separate and Equal

From 8 critic and 7 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Great staging, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

About the show

This new drama explores the emotional violence of segregation through the playing of a forbidden basketball game between black and white teens in the pressure cooker of 1950's Jim Crow Alabama. More…

Inspired by compelling personal recollections from the Oral History Project at the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum, 'Separate and Equal' is told through a dynamic hybrid of basketball and modern dance and performed to an original jazz soundtrack composed specifically for the production. The story follows those on the very cusp of adulthood, not yet consumed by the prejudices of their parents, as they struggle to break free from the repetitious cycle of racism.


“A stunning portrayal of race relations told through a combination of storytelling, basketball play, and contemporary dance performed to an original jazz soundtrack...Prejudice is one of man's worst inclinations and this unique production brings the issue to light. Come courtside for a thought provoking, excellently performed theatrical experience...Powerful and moving production.” Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"A remarkably tense, brilliantly acted, amazingly well-staged, and socially compelling play about basketball and race…Unusually well-honed production…Most remarkable are the basketball sequences, choreographed in awesome detail by Lawrence M. Jackson, and as gripping as anything on the E. 4th Street court in Greenwich Village…A complexly choreographed feast of dribbling, passing, possession (signaled by clapping one's hands), blocking, leaps, twists, fakes, falls, fouls, and shots." Full Review


"Has there ever been more said with a conjunction than with the title of the play, 'Separate and Equal'? Substituting an 'and' for the more usual 'but,' speaks volumes about the worthwhile venture written and directed by Seth Panitch. Though it's often a mistake for one person to take on both jobs, in this case the director Panitch knows exactly what the playwright wants, and delivers with always interesting results." Full Review

Plays to See

"Playwright Seth Panitch has a master’s command of the form...Lawrence Jackson’s choreography is skillful. It’s hard to believe the shenanigans on the court are practiced and not improvised...Players Will Badgett and Ted Barton are especially notable here, playing multiple roles with skill and professionalism...There’s a brilliant moment when the six players have finally shed their anger and are all in, playing for the sheer love of the game." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“Occasionally, there are moments when ‘Separate and Equal's’ sleek concept feels overstuffed... Most of the time, it works both as volatile drama and a devastatingly accurate assessment of racial wounds that still fester. The play is founded on a troubling paradox...One watches in nervous anticipation, knowing that something terrible will happen. It's a tribute to Panitch's invention -- and the work of this fine company -- that when it finally does, it is thoroughly unexpected." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"One might say that stars of the production, in addition to the excellent actors, are choreographer Lawrence M. Jackson and writer-director Seth Panitch...The personal lives of the youths and related or close adults are intertwined with the action, which expands the drama and provides insight into backgrounds and crises. But the genius of the writing and direction is using the court symbolically as a civil rights battleground." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“Panitch’s hard hitting, sometimes heavy-handed drama takes place in Birmingham in the 1950’s, when separate was a fact of life and equal a non-starter.,,Panitch elicits strong performances all around. ‘Separate and Equal’ is often less than clear...Yet for all its lapses, the play is a potent memento of the legacy of segregation.” Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"The sketchy portrayal of the adult characters is problematic and makes the play feel unfinished. Nevertheless, the playwright is to be commended for the inventive use of a basketball game as a metaphor for the troubled history being depicted and for bringing together the themes of camaraderie, resentment, potentially violent competitiveness...Despite its shortcomings, ‘Separate and Equal’ is a worthy entry in the ongoing examination of race relations in America.” Full Review

Profound, Masterful, Great staging, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if you like what live theater is all about. Quite an experience. The melding of basketball. choreography and dialogue is exquisite.

Don't see it if tough language, segregation or being too close to the actors is not for you.

Also This production, like "Wolves", needs a large stage. The venue is my o... Read more Read less

Relevant, Intelligent, Great staging, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if you enjoy history presented in an extremely up close and personal way; you appreciate the choreography of basketball; you can concentrate

Don't see it if you don't like being in the middle of a fast moving, intense theater experience with an historical lesson; you only like musicals.

Also Not only does this show entertain, it is deeply moving in content, the... Read more Read less

Great staging, Great acting, Entertaining, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if If you are interested in what segregation was like, political theater, American history, plays with a lot of physical action.

Don't see it if If you have no interest in seeing simulated sports onstage, If you don't like loud plays with a lot of movement,

Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Great acting

See it if historical drama about racism & the effects of Jim Crow laws in 1950s Alabama; basketball game with well choreographed moves

Don't see it if want an uplifting show with happy ending; would be uncomfortable being extremely close to basketball action, want more character development

Also The seating was around & right up to a small basketball court. The gam... Read more Read less

Great acting, Indulgent, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Great staging

See it if you appreciate historical dramas presented in a unique way.

Don't see it if you like your history lessons to be a bit subtler.

Also There will always be studies of segregation because it never doesn't s... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Intense, Profound, Thought-provoking, Great acting

See it if You want a moving play with authentic dialogue and an honest portrayal of segregation in Alabama at the tail end of Jim Crow.

Don't see it if You don't want an intimate seating/stage experience. You have trouble following along with thick Southern accents and slang.

During previews
Disappointing, Absorbing, Clever

See it if You like theater based on racial history in the south and don't mind watching a prolonged basketball challenge.

Don't see it if You don't want to see a sport on stage or aren't interested in plays about racial prejudice.

Cast & Creatives (13)