May 4, 1969 The play “No Place to Be Somebody” premiered in New York City. The play was written by Charles Gordone and he described it as being about “country folk who had migrated to the big city, seeking the urban myth of success, only to find disappointment, despair, and death.” The play ran for 248 performances and won the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Gordone was the first African American playwright to receive a Pulitzer and “No Place to Be Somebody” was the first off-Broadway play to receive the award.
The play took seven years to write and explores racial tensions in a Civil Rights- era story about a black bartender wh tries to out smart a white mobster syndicate. In his final speech delivered at the Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, he described the play as being “about country folk who had migrated to the big city, seeking the urban myth of success, only to find disappointment, despair and death.” In November 1967, the play was produced in a showcase of three weekends at The Other Stage in Joe Papp’s Public Theater in South Manhatten by director Edward Cornell.
The play was then launched on May 4, 1969 by Joseph Papp on a 248-performance run at the New York Shakespeare Festival’s Public Theater, followed by an acclaimed limited engagement at Broadway’s ANTA Theatre. The play’s run (at New York’s ANTA Playhouse) lasted 15 performances, followed by three national touring companies from 1970 to 1977, all of which Gordone directed.