East Texas Hot Links opens at John Beasley Theater

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January 26th, 2012

Omaha, NE – The John Beasley Theater presents East Texas Hot Links, a story not about famous Texas sausage links but rather how we’re all linked together on the food chain of life.

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Eugene Lee is guest directing East Texas Hot Links at the John Beasley Theatre. (Photo credit Texas State University Department of Theatre and Dance)

Eugene Lee is the writer and director of East Texas Hot Links. Lee grew up in Fort Worth, Texas during, as he said, the “B.I.” or “before integration” days. And he said his interest in theater was first sparked by his tenth-grade drama teacher.

She offered him the role of a maid’s boyfriend in a school play. And after turning it down, he said she asked him a jolting question, “You want to put one of these white boys up there in black face?”

“It dawned on me in a millisecond standing there in that hallway with that lady, that she’d done that before,” Lee said. “There had been many years when there weren’t any black people for her to use (in plays), so she had to do that.”

Lee changed his mind, and accepted the role. He said he would rather “bring some level of dignity to it…than to see some white boy up there in caricature.”

Lee is currently in Omaha, working with local actors at the John Beasley Theatre. As an actor himself, he said it’s important to tell stories related to history and race, and include both the soft and hard truths of segregation.

East Texas Hot Links takes place in the summer of 1955, at a little café/Jook Joint in the back woods of East Texas. The community comes together after discovering there’s a Judas among them, who’s been turning young boys over to Ku Klux Klan members.

“Plays are about those days that are life changing and character changing,” Lee said. “That’s what this play’s about, a major change in this community when these people are forced to do something.”

East Texas Hot Links opens February 17th and runs through March 11th at the John Beasley Theatre in South Omaha.

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