Emmett Till, the Opera
Composer Mary Watkins
Librettist Clare Coss,
Five years in development:
2020 Production planned.
Mamie Till's Lament
Listen to Scenes 3 and 4
Libretto and mp3s
Emmett Till Opera
by Watkins & Coss
October 8 & 9, 2020
John Jay College,
Gerald W Lynch Theater
New York City
Tania Leon Conductor
Damien Sneed Chorus
In association with John Jay,
Opera Noire of New York,
Harlem Chamber Players
Cast by Opera Noire, NY
Harlem Chamber Players
In the works:
Emmett, Tief in
German Translation, Emmett Down in My Heart Label Noir Theatre, Berlin
Poets and the Winding Night
- An Anthology of Poems about the Night Sky From Sappho and Plato to the present. Clare Coss, Editor
Here we live, out in the stars On earth, in heaven
Top photo credit: Jon Snow
CLARE COSS is a playwright, librettist, and activist convinced that we have it in our power to create a just and safe world. "As a playwright my tools are character and dialogue, conflict and story. My imagination often leads to women characters who go where the silence is. They are drawn to confront inaction and/or tyranny; face the challenge to speak and act. Possibility, humor, and a quest for generosity sustain my vision. How do we see each other? How can we help to make the world a better place?"
Clare's one-woman plays include Lillian Wald: At Home on Henry Street and Dangerous Territory (Mary White Ovington, co-founder of the NAACP). They each feature dynamic women who resist indifference to the cruel realities of poverty, sexism, racism, war. Their daring decisions to act for a decent world inspire, inform, and entertain.
Lillian Wald producer Woodie King, Jr. and Clare Coss at the opening night gala
In Emmett, Down in My Heart, two women characters, Emmett Tillís mother, Mamie Till-Mobley and a white teacher, Roanne Taylor, frame the 1955 kidnap, torture, murder of 14-year old Emmett Till in the Mississippi Delta. Roanne is haunted by her silence and confronts her need to take responsibility and speak. Mamie Till-Mobley, through outrage and grief, is transformed from a private citizen to an activist for justice. Her insistence on an open casket sparked the modern civil rights movement.
Clare's theatre productions include:
- Dr. Du Bois and Miss Ovington, Robey Theatre, L.A., CA, West Coast premiere, featured Ben Guillory and Melanie Cruz.
- Emmett, Down in My Heart, Castillo Theatre, NYC, Director- Erica Gould
- Emmett, Down in My Heart, winner TADA! Play Contest, Tucson Alliance of Dramatic Artists, Tucson, AZ
- Dr. DuBois and Miss Ovington, New Federal Theatre in association with Castillo Theatre, NYC
starring Kathleen Chalfant and Tim Simonson
- String of Pearls, Provincetown Theatre Company
- Our Place in Time, Ten Scenes from the Twentieth Century, co-produced by the Women's Project & Productions and the New Federal Theatre
“The Blessing” producer
Wynn Handman and Clare
Coss at the cast party
- The Blessing, American Place Theatre starred Anita Gillette and Kelly Bishop
- Lillian Wald: At Home on Henry Street, New Federal Theatre, featured Tony Award winner Patricia Elliott,(Lincoln Center Theatre on Film and Video Collection)
- Growing Up Gothic, featured Crystal Field, George Bartenieff and Joyce Aaron, original sound score by Thiago de Mello, Theatre for the New City/Interart Theatre
- co-author with Segal and Sklar The Daughters Cycle: Daughters, Sister/Sister, Electra Speaks, Interart Theatre, (NEA, NYSCA, CAPS, Joint Foundation Support)
- The Well of Living Waters, Old Testament Story Theatre, lyricist and co-author with Mel Spiegel, original score Thiago de Mello, Cathedral of St. John the Divine
- The Star Strangled Banner, called “Brechtian-Marx Brothers,” about the U.S. invasion of Mexico in 1848, at the Berkshire Theatre Festival Barn (Playwright in Residence).
Robert Cooper, Chief of the Montaukett Tribe; Clare Coss; Blanche Wiesen Cook; and Lucius Ware, President of the NAACP Riverhead Branch
Clare Coss' publications include Lillian D.Wald: Progressive Activist (Feminist Press) which features the play and a selection of Wald's correspondence and speeches, and Dr. Du Bois and Miss Ovington, Broadway Play Publishing. Her anthology of lesbian love poems, The Arc of Love (Scribner), was a Lambda Literary Award Finalist.
She is a member of PEN, The Dramatists Guild, The League of Professional Theatre Women and the Columbia University Seminar on Women and Society. Clare served as Board Member for The Thanks Be To Grandmother Winifred Foundation. She enjoyed her long tenure as Poetry Editor for Affilia, a journal of women and social work, and worked with Judith Arcana as Co-Poetry Editor for the online magazine www.OntheIssues.com.
Psychotherapist emeritus, she is grateful to her clients, the depths and the heights, in the pursuit of a free mind.
Brought up in New Orleans and New Jersey, Clare Coss is passionate about activist politics for women, peace and freedom, studies the night sky, practices Tai Chi, and was born to swim. She lives in New York with her partner and co-conspirator Blanche Wiesen Cook and the daily miracle of their extended family.
Growing Up Gothic, starring Crystal Field, George Bartenieff, Joyce Aaron. Photo: Donna Gray
Cast party for "The Blessing." 1st row: Leila Boyd, director Roberta Sklar, Anita Gillette, Kelly Bishop; 2nd row: Beth Fowler, Olga Merediz, Clare Coss.
Cast party for "Our Place in Time." 1st row: Elizabeth Hess, Norman Maxwell, Keith Randolph Smith; 2nd row: Daniel McDonald, director Bryna Wortman, Jacqueline Knapp, Gena Bardwell, Clare Coss, co-producer (with Woodie King, Jr.) Julia Miles.