Sump'n Like Wings FPC Newsletter

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“I’ll kick yer ole door down! Lemme out! Lemme out!”

Sump’n Like Wings is the story of Willie Baker, a 16 year old girl too proud and too wild for the life she’s living. Her mother runs the dining room in the hotel her uncle owns. Willie is stuck helping her, squirming under her thumb while her uncle argues for tenderness and compassion.

“You cain’t keep her in a place that’s got a lid on it. She’s got sump’n inside of her like wings, and she’ll beat off the cover, and she’ll go away…”

Sump’n Like Wings is a story of the lessons learned by families about freedom and limits—about love, respect, and safety. It’s a story about home and about leaving home.

Sump’n Like Wings is set in Oklahoma, six years after the Indian and Oklahoma Territories became the 46th state in the Union in 1907. Lynn Riggs owes his lasting fame to the musical named after his home state, Oklahoma!, based on his 1930 play Green Grow the Lilacs.

Three times New York producers took out options on Sump’n Like Wings, but those options all lapsed without a production*. Written in 1925, published in 1928, Sump’n Like Wings played ‘One Night Only’ on November 27, 1931 at the Detroit Playhouse. The following year a Flemish translation was produced in Brussels, where it made “a profound impression.”

Beginning September 21, 2024, Mint Theater Company will present the New York Premiere, which remains a resonant and compelling story about love, family and home.


Scan QR code to access the FPC pre-sale webpage. Must enter code FPCWINGS

Theatre Row Box Office

Phone: (212) 714-2442 ex. 45

In Person: 410 West 42nd St.


Box Office hours Tues - Sun. 12 pm - 5pm Service charges apply for phone & internet purchases

*Options Expired

Riggs was not alone in having a hard time getting produced at this time. Barrett Clark, Riggs’s agent and a prominent American drama editor, publisher, and critic wrote an article in 1932 entitled “American Drama in Its Second Decade.” That piece mentions the options taken but not exercised on Sump’n and goes on to say:

“I know of at least forty other plays, most of them far better than eight out of ten we see during any season on Broadway, most of them contracted for, all of them one to eight years old, and none as yet produced on the professional stage…

September 21 through November 2, 2024

I could fill several pages with logical-sounding excuses from the managers for not putting on these plays, and others nearly as good; I say logical sounding, but when I think of the trash these same managers often do produce, the less inclined I am to see any logic in their alibi.”

Join the EnrichMint Event 9/28

Your generous support as a First Priority Club donor allows us to revive lost and forgotten works. Your donations will help make possible the (almost) premiere of Lynn Riggs’s powerful 1925 drama after a century of obscurity. Renew or increase your FPC donation to help bring to life this revelatory revival. Your support will help bring Riggs’s distinct voice and other forgotten plays back to the stage.

Go to (Or scan the QR code)

Rollie Lynn Riggs

(August 31, 1899 – June 30, 1954) An enrolled Cherokee of mixed descent, Lynn Riggs wrote about the people, places, and events of his childhood, growing up in Oklahoma in the eventful years at the turn of the century.

Riggs attended the University of Oklahoma but left before graduating to pursue a career in writing and theater. He spent time in Santa Fe before moving to New York City in the 1920s, where he became part of the literary and artistic community of Greenwich Village.

His first major play, Big Lake, was produced in 1927 in a production that featured a young Stella Adler. However, it was Green Grow the Lilacs, written in 1930 and produced by the Theatre Guild in 1931, that brought him the most recognition. The play served as the basis for Oklahoma! by Rodgers and Hammerstein in 1943, a milestone in musical theater history.

As a gay man, Riggs lived cautiously and was discreet about his sexuality, but his plays reveal a deep understanding of the outsider and their complex relationship to the larger community. Some of Riggs’s other notable plays include Rancor (1928), Roadside (1930), The Cherokee Night (1932), A Lantern to See By (1928) and Russet Mantle (1936).

He continued to write until his death from stomach cancer in 1954 in New York City. By the end of his life, Riggs had written some thirty plays and scripts for fourteen films produced between 1930 and 1955. His works remain an important part of American literary and theatrical history, offering rich portrayals of rural life and cultural heritage, though they are seldom staged.

EnrichMint Event with Jace Weaver (Free


Jace is the founding Director of the Institute of Native American Studies at the University of Georgia. Weaver has written about Lynn Riggs several times, including in his seminal work of Native American literary history That the People Might Live: Native American Literature and Native American Community.

Excerpt from Jace Weaver’s Forward to The Cherokee Night and Other Plays:

“Silence—even taciturnity—seldom makes for great drama, but Lynn Riggs knew Oklahomans. More so than his contemporary John Steinbeck, he heard them and gave them voice. In his preface to Green Grows the Lilacs, writing of the task of a dramatist, he concluded, “And sometimes, his mmbnmhe may hear from the people he has set in motion (as Shakespeare and Chekhov often heard) things to astonish him and things to make him wise.”

open to the public) Join us after the matinee on Saturday September 28

Meet Mint’s Dramaturgy Team: These people below have all made great contributions to Mint’s storytelling. This year we’re welcoming Jesse Marchese returning to the Mint (remotely) after leaving to pursue an advanced degree. He’ll be taking over for Maya, who is teaching a full load at Bennington College and continuing her writing. Amy continues her work on the upcoming Sump’n Like Wings. S.J. is defending his thesis at Trinity Dublin, where he is writing about Teresa Deevy, and also revising and enlarging all of our Lost Black Playwrights essays.

MAYA CANTU “Between George Kelly’s Philip Goes Forth in 2013 and Elizabeth Baker’s Partnership a decade later, it’s been an honor and thrill to collaborate with Jonathan Bank and the many brilliant theater artists at the Mint Theater Company, where I’ve worked on twenty productions. Truly, it’s been an incredible theatrical partnership. I’ve loved conversing with the Mint’s devoted audiences, both through my program biographies and in EnrichMint talks, and I will always count myself an ardent supporter and audience member of the Mint. I look forward to following future work from this dedicated and adventurous company that adds so much to the cultural life of Off-Broadway, New York, and American theater.”

JESSE MARCHESE is thrilled to be returning to Mint Theater Company as our new Dramaturgical Advisor! He is a queer theater administrator, scholar, historian, director, and dramaturg. Jesse has a long and cherished history with Mint Theater Company, having served as Assistant to the Artistic Director from 2012 to 2014 and then as Associate Director from 2014 to 2017, during which he helped to produce fifteen productions. For the Mint, Jesse directed seven “Further Readings” as well as a 2018 Benefit Reading of Liliom by Ferenc Molnar. He directed Mint Theater’s 2014 production of The Fatal Weakness by George

Kelly (nominated for two 2015 Drama Desk awards) and the 2017 production of The Lucky One by A.A. Milne. Jesse departed from the Mint in 2017 to serve as the Executive Director of Astoria Performing Arts Center (APAC). In January of 2019, Jesse received his MA in Theatre at CUNY Hunter College. Later that year, he relocated to Southern California to pursue a PhD at the Department of Theatre & Dance at UC San Diego. Jesse currently serves as Director of Development and Resident Dramaturg at Diversionary Theatre, the nation’s third oldest professional LGBTQIA+ theater, located in University Heights, San Diego. For Diversionary, Jesse served as production dramaturg on The Mystery of Irma Vep by Charles Ludlam and The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. At Diversionary, Jesse hosts and facilitates a monthly salon-style play reading program called “Gay Play Tuesdays,” where community members participate as both readers and observers, and which aims to interrogate the trope of the “gay play” by exploring a diverse roster of LGBTQIA+ plays from throughout history. “Returning to the Mint as Dramaturgical Advisor feels like coming home,” says Jesse of his re-engagement with the company. “I owe everything to Jonathan Bank and the Mint Theater, where I learned the foundational lessons that have continually served me throughout my career. To begin this new chapter with the play Sump’n Like Wings by Lynn Riggs, a playwright I admire, is particularly special. His groundbreaking and visionary work as a gay and Native playwright is close to my academic and professional interests – and my heart.”

AMY STOLLER From her first Mint production, Mr. Pim Passes By (1997), through Becomes a Woman and Partnership, Amy has helped Mint casts suit words to actions for 40+ productions, starting as a dialect designer, and eventually developing into a dramaturg as well. She bids a very fond farewell to Maya Cantu, the Mint’s outgoing dramaturgical advisor, who has long been responsible for the “macro” (playwright’s biography, wider cultural perspective, etc.) to Amy’s “micro” (history and analysis of transportation methods including schedules, communication technologies, politics, educational systems, popular

entertainment, fashion, other minutiae of daily life). Currently Amy is researching early 20th-century Ozark dialect, plus the history and culture of Northeastern Oklahoma, to provide context for the company of the Mint’s upcoming production of Sump’n Like Wings. She can hardly wait to join the Mint’s new dramaturgical advisor, Jesse Marchese, in Oklahoma, to explore local museums, libraries, and historical societies and find out what else they can learn about Lynn Riggs, his world, and his plays. To learn about Amy’s career beyond the Mint, visit Amy is the 2023 RUTH MORLEY DESIGN AWARD-WINNER for outstanding work in the field of theatrical design.

SJ DE MATTIO “I started working with the Mint in 2016 amidst my undergraduate studies at Sarah Lawrence College. A student of Irish modernism, I was horrified to learn that the syllabus for my introductory course on “Drama of the Literary Revival and Free State Period” failed to include any women. Frustrated, I turned to the Mint to teach me everything I was not learning in the classroom. Jonathan and I immediately connected over our mutual love for the playwright Teresa Deevy. During my first year under his tutelage, I discovered a love for remnants of the obscured past in the archive. In many ways,

the Mint became my second school, and Jonathan my favorite teacher. Upon completing my BA in 2019, I joined the Mint full-time as Jonathan’s Associate Director. During my tenure we collaborated on the company’s “Lost Voices in Black History” series, working alongside the Mint’s Dramaturgical Advisor, Dr. Aviva Helena Neff and Producing Director, Matthew Mcvey-Lee. Jonathan, Aviva, and Matthew’s shared intellectual curiosity and editorial guidance progressively strengthened my skills as a writer and researcher. Then in 2021, with the support of the Mint, I received a Fulbright Scholarship to Trinity College Dublin, where I undertook a two year research project on Deevy’s archives. Flash forward to today, I am now a Merit Scholar and postgraduate student in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. My path to academia has by guided, invariably, by Jonathan and our other friends at the Mint. Their importance to the American theatre is immeasurable. I am forever in their debt.”

412 West 42nd Street New York, NY 10036 212.315.0231 September 21 through November 2, 2024 Tues - Sat @ 7pm Wed, Sat, & Sun @ 2pm No 7pm performances: 9/21, 9/25, 10/02, 10/11, 10/16, 10/23 TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW Theatre Row Box Office Phone: (212) 714-2442 ex. 45 In Person: 410 West 42nd St. Online: MINTTHEATER.ORG Box Office: Tues - Sun. 12 pm - 5pm Service charges apply for phone & internet purchases EnrichMint Event 9/28 Details inside. Use code FPCWINGS for exclusive FPC pricing

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