Iowa Stage Theatre Company debuts ‘Trouble in Mind,’ local actor Davida Williams directs

Alice Childress’ 1955 play “Trouble in Mind” features Blacks actors working with a white theater. The play runs through April 9 in Des Moines.

Davida Williams, a Cloris-award winning Des Moines actor, makes her directorial debut with “Trouble in Mind,” a 1955 play by Alice Childress, a Black National Book Award and Pulitzer nominated novelist. In the play, presented by the Iowa Stage Theatre Company, Black artists work with a white theater to tell an “inauthentic anti-lynching story.”

Davida Williams. Photo courtesy of Williams.

Thought provoking with a mix of humor, the play runs from March 31 to April 9, at the Stoner Theater, 221 Walnut St. (Within the Des Moines Civic Center.) Tickets are $40. Get tickets.

“This directing experience was the “right” next step for me. It felt so good to utilize my entire skill set. It is an addictive feeling to craft each character, each moment,” said Williams. “I have enjoyed my cast to the fullest. Their energy and passion made this experience a success for me.”

Williams said people need to see the play because they will get the chance to hear one of the many stories of a Black woman struggling to be heard, crying out to be valued.

“This particular instance deals with an actress of color making it a storyline I’m all too familiar with. But it stretches beyond the stage. It is easy to read and article or watch a movie and feel bad until it’s over. This is live theater. This is an opportunity to be in the room and witness our plight first hand,” she said.

While the predominant issue is prejudice and racism, the play touches bias based on gender, age and education, Williams said.

“The plot and the characters are multi layered. I believe we peel them all back and expose the root of most problems and that is a lack of respect towards marginalized peoples. This production is proof that this town has more than enough talent to put on these types of shows,” she said.

Williams said she expects shows like this one to become more of the norm, than the exception.

Iowa Stage Theatre Company will host talk backs after the show on April 1 and April 7. The audience can stay, ask questions and have discussion with director, cast and crew, she said.

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