TRIAL IN THE DELTA:
THE MURDER OF EMMETT TILL
The murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955 brought national attention to the racial violence and injustice prevalent in the deep south. While on a trip from his hometown, Chicago, to visit relatives in Mississippi, Till went to the Bryant store with his cousins, and may have whistled at Carolyn Bryant, a white woman. Her husband, Roy Bryant, and brother-in-law, J.W. Milam, kidnapped and brutally murdered Till, dumping his body in the Tallahatchie River. The newspaper coverage and murder trial galvanized a generation of young African Americans to join the Civil Rights Movement out of fear that such an incident could happen to friends, family, or even themselves.
Trial in the Delta plays like a reenactment of the actual court proceedings that played out in Sumner, Mississippi in 1955. Actors portraying witnesses for the defense and prosecution, including Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till and uncle Moses Wright, deliver deeply emotional and biting testimonies. Other key characters, based on real life, include presiding judge Curtis Swango, defense attorney J. J. Breeland, district attorney Gerald Chatham, and, of course, J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, the two men who were found not guilty of murdering Emmett Till, but later admitted to the heinous crime.
Trial In The Delta will run around 2 hours with an intermission.
IN THE WORKS
Collaboraction is currently working towards a remount and touring of Trial in the Delta: The Murder of Emmett Till following our successful world premiere run at The DuSable Museum in Feb. '23. Email email@example.com for sponsorship, booking, and touring inquiries of all kinds.
Originally commissioned by Marion Brooks & LeAnn Trotter of NBC 5 Chicago, Trial In The Delta is adapted from the once-hidden trial transcripts of the Mississippi vs. MIlam & Bryant case of 1955. After the transcripts were found and acquired, Collaboraction was commissioned to adapt it for the stage and tapped company members Willie ROund & G. Riley Mills.
Trial In The Delta was shared as a staged reading at The DuSable Black History Museum & Education Center in February 2022. Shortly after, the adaptation was filmed at NBC Studios as a part of Marion Brooks' documentary (streaming on Peacock), "The Lost Story of Emmett Till: Trial In The Delta," which went on to win a Midwest/Regional Emmy.
The fully produced version of Trial in the Delta–ran for a limited time at The DuSable in February 2023.
The production will be an immersive reenactment of the actual courtroom setting with the audience and actors co-mingled in the house.
As a result, Trial in the Delta promises to be a new, more authentic account of one of the most monumental injustices of the U.S. legal system in the 20th century.
Run time is approximately 2 hours and will be followed by a Crucial Conversation with the audience. The reading will be filmed with multiple cameras for a corresponding video project.
In the Summer of 2021, Collaboraction was approached by NBC Chicago with the hidden trial transcript of the State of Mississippi V. J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant, the men who kidnapped and killed Emmett TIll. The Court Reporter never filed the transcript and it had not been publicly excavated. 25 years of Chicago theatre productions and relationships had poised Collaboraction for adapting, filming and now staging this missing piece of the Civil Rights Movement, breathing life into the injustice of the trial and the brilliant acts of activism from Mamie Till and other key witnesses for the Prosecution. Now, the time has come to share it with the public and follow Mamie's lead towards making each other's welfare all of our business.