Byhalia, Mississippi

Announced in Kennedy Center’s 2018-19 Season
Byhalia Kennedy

FOUR Simultaneous World Premieres opened January 8th, 2016

Chicago, IL with The New Colony and Definition Theatre Company
Memphis, TN with Playhouse on the Square
Charleston, SC with Village Repertory Co.
Toronto, ON with Cue6 Productions

Chicago Production Transferred to Steppenwolf Theatre Company July 22-August 21, 2016

Directed by Tyrone Phillips
CAST:  Jeffrey Owen Freelon Jr., Kiki Layne, Evan Linder, Liz Sharpe, Cecelia Wingate


Byhalia Announced in Contemporary American Theatre Festival’s 2017 Season

Leads 2016 Jeff Nominations


American Theatre Magazine:
Byhalia‘s Simultaneous Premieres


Nominated for Six
2016 Ostrander Awards


Feature Story: Post & Courier


Theatre by Numbers: Chicago, IL

#1 Show of 2016:
“When we eventually look back on the career of Evan Linder, this play will be studied as his masterwork.”Christopher Kidder-Mostrom

Stage and Candor

Byhalia, Mississippi is [an] American classic in the making…Tyrone Phillip’s vision took [Linder’s] brilliant words and made them so real that they hurt you, they give you hope, and ultimately, they heal you if you let them.” -Kelly Wallace


Best of Chicago Theatre 2016: “…a play that beautifully illustrates the difficult relationships between people, how happiness can be found—even in the bleakest of circumstances.”
-Hilary Holbrook

Chicago Splash

Byhalia [is a] searing new American drama…” -Jennifer Lunz

Broadway World: Memphis, TN

“…after seeing the play, I realized that I was guilty of preconceived notions and misconceptions – a shortcoming shared by black and white characters alike in Mr. Linder’s probing, ambitious work…Byhalia is simply a microcosm; it is as representative of us as a nation as is Grovers Corners in Thornton Wilder’s OUR TOWN.” – Joseph Baker

Digital Journal: Toronto, ON

“…if the intense Toronto production directed by Jill Harper is typical, this drama is essential viewing no matter what city you’re in.”
-Jeff Cottrill

Broadway World: Chicago

“The rawness and immediacy of Linder’s script is elevated further by the stellar, multi-dimensional performances…These performances will stay with me and heighten the emotional intensity in Linder’s beautiful play. This new drama fuels both the mind and the heart.” -Rachel Weinberg

Broadway World: Birmingham, AL

“[Byhalia, Mississippi] makes you question where you draw the line on betrayal. How forgiving can you be?…truly exceptional.” -Marietta Lunsford

Chicago Critic

Highly Recommended! “It’s a great sign for the future of theatre…Byhalia, Mississippi is a must-see, and one which demands to be talked about.” -Jacob Davis

Pittsburgh in the Round

“When the play you are watching can make you think, then laugh, then gasp, then cry, then laugh, then think some more – well, that’ s just about the best night of theater there is. Byhalia, Mississippi, currently playing at Carnegie Stage, provides just such a night of great theater..” -Helen Meade

A Scene from Byhalia, Mississippi: Chicago Tribune .

Photos above from World Premiere in Chicago (January 2016) by Joe Mazza at Brave Lux

January 2016 Staged Readings: Theatre Downtown in Birmingham, AL, square product theatre in Boulder, CO and Sixth Avenue in Los Angeles, CA

World Premiere Conversation Announced in American Theatre MagazineChicago Tribune and Time Out Chicago

WINNER of 3 Non-Equity Jeff Awards including Best New Work

WINNER of the NewWorks@The Works Playwriting Competition at Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, TN 

Further Reading: “The Once and Future Mississippi” by Donald J. Simon

World Premiere Conversation Archived at

Photos above from Contemporary American Theatre Festival (July 2017) by Seth Freeman Photography

Tim Treanor, DC Theatre Scene
★★★★★ (out of ★★★★★)

“Such plays, in general, require heroes and villains… That you get something better is due, certainly, to the skill and ambition of playwright Evan Linder- but it is also due to the spirit of Alfred “Skip” Robinson who, by leading a contentious boycott, forced the town to look at itself, and become better… Take a moment to admire the art which Linder and this fine cast have put into it. There is not an ounce of judgment or condescension for these characters; their flaws are funny because they’re human.”

Grace Cavalieri, Washington Independent Review of Books

“If this is not ‘Broadway Bound,’ I’d be surprised. It’s a perfect piece of writing… Let’s teach this play to our students to show what writing is; how characters are unique…and how well a playwright can balance humor and humanity.”

Terry Ponick, Communities Digital News
★★★½ (out of ★★★★)

“Linder perceives and sympathizes with all this social and racial confusion in a convincing yet subtle way, adding further to this drama’s depth and authenticity…In Byhalia, Mississippi, Linder’s small, well-crafted, semi-fictional southern town setting artfully lays out a human landscape significantly more sophisticated than the […] caricatures so favored by those who know nothing about this region.”

Imade Borha, Frederick News-Post

“Feels both fresh and fully fleshed out. The Marc Masterson-directed play has an authentic balance between dramatic tension and comedic relief… Byhalia, Mississippi is a play that will leave you with a sense of enduring hope.”

Robert Michael Oliver, DC Metro Theater Arts

“…amidst the gutter talk, the racist behavior, the working poor’s low life, and the familial muddle, an endearing respect emerges for the grit and determination and love of Laurel and Jim. And that is the beauty of Byhalia, Mississippi. Such empathy is rare indeed…Funny and enlightening.”



Byhalia, Mississippi is a phenomenal evening of entertainment directed by Marc Masterson and wonderfully written by Evan Linder.”


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