Clare Coss

“Clare Coss's dramatic presentation of DANGEROUS TERRITORY was completely engaging. In thinking seriously about Ovington's journey, we think also about the processes by which we make the political decisions which shape our lives and our society, and the commitments that give life meaning.”

Gerda Rae, Professor, Department of History and Institute for Women's and Gender Studies, University of Missouri, St. Louis, MO

“To celebrate Women's History Month the Webster University community attended Clare Coss's
performance of DANGEROUS TERRITORY. We were intrigued by the dramatic use of an individual life to portray substantive issues that resonate with our own time. The audience thoroughly enjoyed what was for most an introduction to Mary White Ovington, W.E.B. DuBois and the founding of the NAACP.”

Seena B. Kohl, Professor, Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Webster University, St. Louis, MO

“In DANGEROUS TERRITORY, Clare Coss imagines a totally convincing conversation delivered as a monologue by Mary White Ovington a founder of the NAACP. We are gripped by the conflict dividing Ovington and a furious pater familias who has come to ‘rescue’ his daughter from her own choice—to work for African-American equality alongside the charismatic Ovington, an early 20th century descendant of abolitionists. Coss reads her own script with a deft and persuasive delivery that evokes a stage full of characters, each with a fully developed persona.”

Sandi E. Cooper, Professor of History, College of Staten Island and the Graduate Center, CUNY

“Clare Coss’ fast-paced and moving play about Mary White Ovington, one of America’s pioneering leaders for racial justice, is a play for our time. Coss’ dramatic reading of DANGEROUS TERRITORY energized and inspired our NOW New York State convention audience.”

Lois Shapiro-Canter, president National Organization for Women, New York State

“A fresh and gripping portrait of Mary White Ovington. Clare Coss' play casts a floodlight on the timeless and spirited fight for racial justice. Scenes from Ovington’s first awareness of race to her close alliance to W.E.B. DuBois, spring to life as the drama unfolds. Ovington is a voice we need to hear in this country today.”

Lucius Ware, President, Eastern Long Island branch, NAACP

“In bringing us the fight one woman made, DANGEROUS TERRITORY dramatizes the early 20th Century struggle against racism. This is a part of our history which must not be forgotten. Thanks to Clare Coss for a vivid and imaginative theatre event. The play energizes us to keep on keeping on.”



Dangerous Territory

Running Time: One Hour
Requirements: A table and chair

Presented at Colleges and Universities,
Conferences and Conventions,
Community Centers and Schools

Clare Coss welcomes discussion with the audience sparked by the play. For booking information, contact Clare Coss:

Playwright Sheds Light on Mary White Ovington
Posted on 20 March 2013 - The Sag Harbor Express

Professing a belief in equality is a noble calling. But staying true to those ideals in the face of opposition, prejudice and hatred is another matter altogether. In her one-woman play “Dangerous Territory” writer and East End resident Clare Coss delves into the issues of social justice and activism by offering the story of a little known figure in history who played a major role in the advancement of the rights of African Americans.


Mary White Ovington was not a dutiful daughter. She rebelled against the expectations of her family and became the first white woman in 20th century America to dedicate her life to racial justice.

DANGEROUS TERRITORY dramatizes Ovington’ s journey beyond the narrow confines of her comfortable New York home. We meet a cast of dynamic characters whose virtues and contradictions propel her along the way: from the careless white boys at the Greenpoint Settlement to the adversarial African-American leaders, Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois.

Miss Ovington and Dr. DuBois forged a vigorous and spirited friendship. Their alliance led to the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

The play takes place on the afternoon of August 20, 1920 in the NAACP national office, New York City.


Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Fork, Bridgehampton, LI, NY  -  in celebration of Women's History Month 2013

Paradigm Shift: New York City's Feminist Community
The Tank Theatre, West 48th Street, NYC

"Amazing!  Inspiring! Eloquent! Stirring!"
Meredith Villano, Co-Founder and Director, Paradigm Shift

Dangerous Territory at Paradigm Shift Photo By Amy Mitten
In this photo: Jamia Wilson, Women's Media Center, Post Play Discussion Moderator; Lucius Ware, NAACP Eastern Long Island Branch President; Clare Coss; H Scottie Coads, NAACP Nassau Branch Civic Engagement Manager; Meredith Villano, director Paradigm Shift

Additional Readings of DANGEROUS TERRITORY (Partial Listing):

  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Eastern Long Island Branch
  • Webster University, St. Louis, MO
  • University of Wisconsin, Superior, WI
  • New York State NOW Convention, Albany, NY

Acclaimed actor Kathleen Chalfant premiered DANGEROUS TERRITORY in the Zora Neale Hurston Writer's Project, New Federal Theatre, New York City. Bryna Wortman directed.