New York | 2h 0m | Already closed


From 9 critic and 65 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Relevant

About the show

Set in Texas in 1964, this new play by William Jackson Harper ("The Good Place") centers around a community that was untouched by the tumult of the civil rights movement, and is compelled into a kind of reckoning. More…

An ailing minister, a protege, a mayor, a journeyman preacher, a domestic, and her husband have their lives irrevocably changed once a stranger enters their lives, forcing them to take sides and take a stand.

2h 0m | Already closed | Ensemble Studio Theatre (Midtown W)

Front Row Center

“Harper has written a fierce piece of theater with dialogue that pops and sparks with humor and intensity...No one is a villain, twisting their bar handled mustache and laughing. These are complicated human beings. These are remarkable people...And the cast? Took my breath away...I do wish we had seen more of the women...Broadnax III’s direction is spot on. Scenes flow from one to the other seamlessly. There is no excess just constant motion to an end that will, if nothing, bring hope.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“Harper skillfully tracks several plot threads...These storylines collide, creating dialogue that crackles with drama...Under the direction of Broadnax III, a large cast does full justice to the harsh truths embedded in Harper's rangy tale...Harper emerges as a fully developed playwright...There are no easy answers in ‘Travisville’, but you're likely to find yourself dwelling on the characters and their dilemmas long after the show is over. This is an impressive debut.” Full Review

Off Off Online

“Harper has written a thrilling and important drama so rich in detail and nuance...The story is all the more forceful thanks to the impeccable cast that embodies his humane characters...’The conflict between Hurst on the one side and Fletcher, Gunn, and Phillips on the other plays out deftly in Harper’s hands...A powerful drama from an exciting new voice in the theater.” Full Review


"The clash between mature pragmatism versus youthful idealism in relation to the civil rights movement is bracingly dramatized in a series of finely written short scenes. Harper’s taut construction, solid plotting and detailed characters all yield to a suspenseful, emotionally shattering and entertaining experience...Director Steve H. Broadnax III’s smooth staging realizes the play’s seriousness, tenderness, and humor." Full Review

Time Out New York

“Harper’s terrific drama...It’s no surprise that a fine actor would write fine dialogue, or that he has a precise touch for characterization. What’s most exciting is how well he orchestrates the pressures of event and argument: His whole created world breathes...Harper writes scenes to slightly overlap, and...Broadnax III handles this with clarity and force; he uses the tiny stage at Ensemble Studio Theatre to good effect, and his cast is tremendous.” Full Review


"Relatively hands-off direction puts much of the onus on the dialogue and actors to carry the day. Thankfully, Harper shows a knack for colorful dialogue throughout: funny at unexpected moments, eloquent during serious ones. And the cast bring a dynamism to their roles that feels positively electric..Perhaps most impressive about 'Travisville' is Harper's clearheaded willingness to embrace the agonizing complexities of his subject." Full Review

Daily Beast

“Such a good, tight play...Barring a strange deflation of storytelling towards the end (it feels like the play doesn't know when or how to end right), it is a polished jewel of writing and acting, and carried by some sharp and distinctive performances from its cast of nine...Stylistically, scenes run into one another; the words of one character blanketed by the next. It's an effective technique sometimes, and a little irritating at others.” Full Review

The New York Times

“The cast is compelling and the show well directed...It is all very neat. Too neat, perhaps: The story feels overly polished in a way that will be familiar to observers of well-crafted contemporary American theater. Harper has serious writing chops, but if the story of activism has taught us something, it’s that a little mess can be liberating.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Infused in glorious ways with first-time playwright Harper’s actor sensibilities. His carefully-etched characters...confront sit-ins, generational shifts in power, and community change. Meaty individual monologues shine...It is the arc of the local political compromises that provide the dramatic sparks in this story...Elegant direction by Broadnax masks the fact that the many scenes make pieces out of the story...The play that hones those stories into one resonant whole is not yet here." Full Review

Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Great writing

See it if you want to see a well-written, stupendously acted story about the tensions in a Southern town immediately after the civil rights movement.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy intelligent plays or want something light

Also What an amazing first play by Harper. He did an excellent job revealin... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, staging, and writing, Ambitious, Intelligent, Must see

See it if you enjoy historical plays that are still highly relevant today. Also, if you like thought-provoking dramas.

Don't see it if you do not like talky, intelligent plays. Also, if your taste runs to musicals and light comedies.

Also "Travisville" marks an auspicious playwriting debut for actor, William... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Thought-provoking, Must see

See it if You want to see a moving and powerful, well performed drama performed but some very strong actors about a very thought-provoking subject.

Don't see it if You want something light and fluffy. You are not interested in a play that makes you think. You want to miss out on a great performance.

Also I was blown away by this performance. There was not one weak performer... Read more Read less

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

See it if Black 1960's community must make dangerous choices. Well developed nuanced characters, who learn from each other. Tense insightful drama.

Don't see it if You aren't interested in characters weighing their options in an environment of fear. You want a lighter subject.

Great ensemble acting, edge-of-seat 60s civil rights nail biter

See it if Author Harper, a great actor, has written a searing drama for actors and assembled a wonderful cast. Coats is excellent as the aged minister

Don't see it if Very tense at times especially when the wonderful Sheldon Best as the young activist confronts the older residents and preachers.

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if Drama about civil rights, strong cast.

Don't see it if Talking, this is not a musical and comedy.

Also Great acting, strong story that will leave you thinking.

Absorbing, Great writing, Intense, Relevant

See it if You value how the past influences the present, you're obsessed with The Good Place, you appreciate good acting

Don't see it if You can't climb narrow stairs (theater is 2nd floor with narrow, rickety staircase)

Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if You a smart play with a real story, and big questions about the past and the present, with the most amazing actors, in an intimate setting

Don't see it if You're looking for trendy, ironic, postmodern, lightweight, the ubiquitous (ciritically praised) style over substance. This is a real play.

Great acting, Relevant, Riveting, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if you like plays based on history and can bear the shameful parts of history that expose hatred, racism, greed, and the thirst for power.

Don't see it if If you prefer to be see a play solely for entertainment.

Also This was a powerful show and sadly resonates as we still see different... Read more Read less

Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Relevant, Slow

See it if you like historical dramas, you are interested in politics and activism, you appreciate fine performances and writing in any genre.

Don't see it if you need a lot of flash or excitement, you can't get into slower-paced or historical shows, you don't like heavy themes of race and politics

Relevant, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if you love an intelligent, well written, beautifully acted, play that can make you laugh, rage, think, debate-- and then decide for yourself.

Don't see it if you expect constant action. This is a thoughtful, soul searching and infuriating debate that some have to live with, daily.

Also Some of the best writing and acting I've had the pleasure to see. The ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Relevant, Talky

See it if You want to see a well-crafted show about the challenges of making change.

Don't see it if You don’t want to take a close look at a painful time in American history that continues to be meaningful today.

Also Harper’s talent as an actor is impressive (although he does not appear... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if Excellent, genuine drama -- interesting characters grapple with challenges and explore multiple sides of tough issues, with superb acting

Don't see it if Although repeatedly punctuated by emotional power, it's arguable the principal character broods a little too long on his choices

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy dramas set during the civil rights movement.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy historical fiction.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy political topics and want to see a straightforward drama that is well crafted

Don't see it if you are not interested in plays that makes you think

Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if strong performances, important subject matter, strong staging, complex characters, something to think about after you leave the theater

Don't see it if you don't want to be sad about US race relations, are looking for a cheery evening of theater

Absorbing, Riveting, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Resonant

See it if to witness a taut, gripping story of black residents in '60s TX under siege by a white community that wants to displace them for "progress".

Don't see it if you wish to bury your head in the sand and deny our grim racist past & the difficult transition immediately following the Civil Rights Act.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to see interesting,realistic characters dealing with complex issues. Well written & well acted

Don't see it if don't like lots of dialogue. 2 hours flew by because the issues were so compelling, but most scenes consist of people sitting and talking

Compelling, Ambitious, Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant

See it if you are interested in race relations then and now, appreciate great acting & writing, terrific playwriting debut.

Don't see it if you are too uncomfortable watching discrimination at play dating back to the 60's/acknowledging how far we still have to go. Weak ending.

Also Very worthwhile, thought provoking, relevant and absorbing play, even ... Read more Read less

Powerful drama, Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You like plays about race, class and the situations encountered when they are discussed. You like plays within a historical context.

Don't see it if You are looking for light entertainment. You can’t deal with dialogue often shouted and overlapping. You aren’t interested in issues of race

Thought-provoking, Great writing, Great acting, Profound, Absorbing

See it if a snapshot of recent history and all it’s nuanced racial tensions interests you.

Don't see it if you expect big historical names as characters. These are ordinary people - situations that played out in thousands of ways across America.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if An engaging well written and acted drama about civil rights in the mid 60’s. Unfortunately relevant for today’s society.

Don't see it if Do not see if you prefer a light drama or musical.

Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Intelligent, Intelligent ply about race relations

See it if a great all around play about race relations in a small town right around the days of the civil rights acts. Wonderful acting.

Don't see it if You are offended by the subject of race and don't like historical plays set in the 1960s South.

Absorbing, Great writing, Great staging, Great acting, Intense

See it if You want to see a straightforward drama that is well crafted that has something to say. You enjoy political dramas.

Don't see it if You are looking for something experimental. You heavily dislike plays that involve history and/or politics.

Also "We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great staging, Relevant, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if if you like good dialogues and strong characters

Don't see it if you don't like dialogue heavy shows

Also the plays feels sincere

Cast & Creatives (16)