Matter of Intent by Gary Earl Ross

Drama/ 12 Characters, 5 Men, 7 Women/ Full Length, Two Acts

It is 1960. Kennedy and Nixon are vying for the White House as lunch counter sit-ins spread throughout the South. Sam Cooke is on the radio, and ‘The Untouchables’ is on television. Buffalo, New York, has so few black women lawyers they can be counted on a single hand.

In this stirring legal drama, one of them, Temple Scott, is locked in the courtroom fight of her life. There is no doubt the young woman the press calls “the Negro Lizzie Borden” murdered her employer. To keep Mae Lou McKitchen out of the electric chair, however, Temple must uncover the truth behind the crime. Murder, you see, is always a matter of intent. Matter of Intent is an acclaimed drama about “a crime without a witness, a society without perspective, a criminal justice system that is anything but just.” –The Buffalo News

From “Ross uses the well-worn cliches of television courtroom drama in ways that subvert them winningly. Temple Scott’s dedicated pursuit of truth and justice is hampered by the obstacles she faces as a black woman. This makes for a pleasing dynamic as each new challenge offers her the opportunity to use her superior intellect and uncanny insight. Moreover, the playwright uses his heroine’s sex and race to demonstrate how different life experiences can give us different insights.

“The playwright intersperses the chronological telling of his story with flashbacks that reveal the characters’ memories to be flawed, or which show episodes outside of any of the living characters’ knowledge. [E]very character harbors a past . . . . The victim’s husband is concealing an affair. The victim, herself, has secret reasons for not joining her husband on his business trips. There are hidden reasons that Scott’s planned defense of her client upsets Bobbie Nichols. The dead woman’s best friend is a frenzy of mixed emotions and motivations. These undercurrents lend an intriguing element of unpredictability to the proceedings.”

“If you enjoy a good mystery, then Matter Of Intent is for you.”
– The Buffalo Criterion

“The playwright has a fine sense of drama, and an excellent command of both character and comedy. I had a thoroughly enjoyable time.”

“The idea that the American legal and penal systems are not remotely fair is one worth raising at every chance.”
– The Buffalo News

Winner of the 2005 Emanuel Fried Outstanding New Play Award and the 2006 Edgar Award for Best Play from the Mystery Writers of America. A selection of the 2009 NAAA Crossing the Divide Festival in London, England.

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Performance rights must be secured before production
Contact information:Amateur and professional rights:
Gary Earl Ross
228 Highgate Avenue
Buffalo, NY
USA, 14215
Ph: (716)308-0807

About the Playwright: Gary Earl Ross is a language arts professor at the University at Buffalo EOC and the author of more than 170 published short stories, poems, articles, scholarly papers, and public radio essays. Named Erie County’s 2003 Artist of the Year, Ross has won numerous awards for writing, including a LIFT Fiction Fellowship, an Artie Award for the play Matter of Intent, and for his public radio essays first place commentary awards from the New York State Associated Press and the New York Broadcasters’ Association.Readers of Artvoice voted him the 2008 Best Writer in Buffalo. His books and staged plays include The Wheel of Desire and Other Intimate Hauntings (2000), Shimmerville: Tales Macabre and Curious (2002), Sleepwalker: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (2002), the children’s taleDots (2002), Matter of Intent (2005 Ujima Theater world premiere and winner of the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America),Picture Perfect (from the 2007 Tennessee Stage Company New Play Festival in Knoxville), and The Best Woman (from Ujima in 2007).

He has two plays in development, The Scavenger’s Daughter (2009-10) and Murder Squared (2009-10). A member of the Dramatists Guild of America, the Mystery Writers of America, and the Just Buffalo Literary Center, Ross was recently named playwright-in-residence at Ujima Company and was awarded a 2008 Constance Saltonstall Foundation Playwriting Grant. His novel, Blackbird Rising, was published in 2009, and Matter of Intent received a staged reading at London’s Bridewell Theater in June 2009. – Best Woman

Matter of Intent was first produced by the Ujima Theater Company at TheaterLoft in Buffalo, New York, in April, 2005

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