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, a retired UB/EOC language arts professor, is the author of more than 200 published short stories, poems, articles, op-ed articles, scholarly papers, and public radio essays. His works include the short story collections The Wheel of Desire (2000) and Shimmerville (2002), the children’s story Dots (2002), the novels Blackbird Rising and Nickel City Blues (2017), and the stage plays Sleepwalker (2002), Picture Perfect (2007), The Best Woman (2007), Matter of Intent (winner of the 2006 Edgar Allan Poe Award from Mystery Writers of America), Murder Squared (2011), The Scavenger’s Daughter (2012), The Guns of Christmas (2014), The Mark of Cain (2016), and The Trial of Trayvon Martin (2017).

Ross’s plays have been performed in Buffalo, NY; New York, NY; Rochester, NY; Bend, OR; Knoxville, TN; Spring Lake, NJ; Kamsack, Saskatchewan, Canada; West Sussex, England; Manchester, England; London, England; Shanghai, China; Manipal, India; and Almaty, Kazakhstan. Ross edited Nickel City Nights (2008) and co-edited (with Gunilla Theander Kester) The Empty Chair: Love and Loss in the Wake of Flight 3407 (2010) and The Still Empty Chair (2011). Released in 2017 by Black Opal Books is Nickel City Blues, the first Buffalo-based Gideon Rimes mystery.

In addition to the Edgar, Ross’s honors include three Emanuel Fried Outstanding New Play Awards, a LIFT Fiction Fellowship, a Saltonstall Foundation Playwriting Fellowship, an ASI/DEC Fiction Grant, public radio commentary awards from the New York Associated Press and the New York Broadcasters Association, and numerous awards for teaching or professional, university, or community service. A member of the Just Buffalo Literary Center, the Dramatists Guild of America, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the National Writers Union, Ross has written, directed, or acted in plays for Ujima Company, the Subversive Theatre Collective, New Phoenix Theater, Road Less Traveled Productions, and the Towne Players.

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

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