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Arts Alive! podcast: Playwright Mark E. Leib

Bill DeYoung



Playwright Mark E. Leib was born in Tampa, and lives there now, but spent much of his life elsewhere. One day, he knew, he would write something about the history of his hometown. He just didn’t have a timeline.

The opportunity arose during a series of talks between Leib and Stageworks Theatre director Karla Hartley, who offered to produce an original, history-based Leib work. This began the saga of When the Righteous Triumph, which opens a three-weekend run at the Channelside District theater tonight.

When the Righteous Triumph is a dramatization of the events of 1960, in which young African-American people – with the encouragement and support of the NAACP – protested the city’s archaic Jim Crow attitude by staging “sit-ins” at local businesses, starting with the local Woolworth’s lunch counter, where they were not “allowed.” In accordance with the edicts of Dr. Martin Luther King, they were strictly non-violent protests.

From the Black side, at least, they were non-violent.

These, and sit-ins all over the South, were instrumental in turning the slow-moving tide of race relations in this country.

On this episode of the Arts Alive! podcast, Leib discusses the real Tampans who became characters in his play, the process of researching and writing, and the lesson he hopes the work will impart.

“I grew up in Jim Crow Tampa, and it was not a pretty place, racially,” Leib says. “So this is an attempt to stir the memory of people who were there, and to alert people who were not there that only 60 years ago, race relations in Tampa were terrible.

“And to remind them that where we are now, and how we should think about movements like Black Lives Matter; all those questions can be further illuminated by knowing what happened in this city on Franklin Street, and on Tampa Street and on Twiggs Boulevard.”

Click on the arrow below to listen to the interview.

For tickets, visit

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1 Comment

1 Comment

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    L OConnor

    March 18, 2023at3:27 pm

    Who cares if Carla asked or he pitched an idea he had? Sour grapes and he is lower in my judgment.

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