The Mark of Cain by Gary Earl Ross

Drama/ 15 Characters, 4 Men, 4 Women, 7 Either/Or — Doubling possible/ Full Length, Two Acts

Synopsis: It’s the summer of 1925. In a northern industrial city, Dr. Ossian Cain buys his dream house . . . in an all-white neighborhood. A mob attacks the house to force the Cains out. Someone inside fires a shot, someone outside dies, and Dr. Cain, his wife Alice, his daughter Lizbeth, and his brother Marcellus are all arrested for murder. Can celebrated “attorney for the damned” Charles Durham, just back from the Monkey Trial in Tennessee, save the Cain family from the electric chair?

“A fictionalized version of a civil rights trial in 1925 Detroit . . . . still intact is the Byronian figure of Ossian, the victorious ‘state of mind’ defense put forth by the cagey, folksy Charles Dunham — read Clarence Darrow here — plus pieces of dialogue taken from trial transcripts and Darrow’s seven hours of closing summation, stunning final minutes, a heartbreaking coda and hints of mystery, sleuthing and forensics.” — Buffalo News

“Compelling . . . . Everything works.” — The Buffalo News

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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
Playwright’s website:

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.

The Mark of Cain was first produced by the Subversive Theatre Collective, Buffalo, NY in March, 2016.