Cover photo by Roman Duszek

West Memphis Mojo

Martin Jones

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Winner in the 1986 F D G/C B S New PlaysProgram


Set in a black barbershop in Arkansas, 1955, WEST MEMPHIS MOJO sings the unsung heroes of the blues tradition. A young songwriter, working as a shoeshine boy, collaborates with the shop owner and a small-time recording artist to create new blues tunes. Amidst racial tensions and the politics of the white-owned music industry, this play explodes with the conflicts surrounding each character's pursuit of the American dream.

Production Info

Cast: 4 total (1 female, 3 male)
Full Length Drama (about 110 minutes)
Single Set
Contemporary Costumes

Press Quotes

“WEST MEMPHIS MOJO … written with skill and wit by Martin Jones, is set in a barbershop in West Memphis, Arkansas, in November, 1955, when rock and roll was starting to take off — when, that is, white record companies and other entrepreneurs were making forays into rhythm and blues … The story is a simple one, though none the less powerful for that … What matters most of all, of course, is the absolute authenticity of character and emotion. Mr Jones is a very good writer …” —Edith Oliver, The New Yorker

About the Author


  • Martin Jones

    Martin Jones was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, but has lived primarily in places such as Memphis, St Louis, Chicago, Michigan, Florida, Virginia, Maine, Vermont, and Italy. In 1968 he received a B A in English and Theatre Arts from Hillsdale College in Michigan. He received an M A in Theatre from Eastern Michigan University, and a Ph.D. in Playwriting and Dramatic Literature from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. While at Carbondale he studied creative writing with the novelist John Gardner. For ten years Mr Jones taught in academic theater. He was Playwright-in-Residence at Northern Illinois University, and a drama professor at the University of Virginia and at Bowdoin College. In 1980 he left academic theater to work in Chicago as a playwright, actor, and director. He has worked as a performer at several regional theaters including the Victory Gardens Theater, the Wisdom Bridge Theater, the Theater at Monmouth, and the Portland Stage Company. In 1980 his play, OLD SOLDIERS, premiered at the Performance Community in Chicago. OLD SOLDIERS was published in Best Short Plays of 1983. His play DAUGHTERS premiered at the Guthrie Theater (Studio) in Minneapolis, and was later produced by Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater. In 1982 two of his plays were staged Off-Off Broadway — FLAMINGOS, at the Nameless Theatre, and SNOW LEOPARDS, at the 18th Street Playhouse. In October, 1983 his ZOOLOGY (a trilogy of plays) premiered in New York at the Stage Arts Theater Company. In 1985 Stage Arts also produced SNOW LEOPARDS, which was published later that year by Samuel French. WEST MEMPHIS MOJO was selected in 1986 as a winner in the F D G/C B S New Plays Program. In the spring of that year, Mr Jones co-authored a musical revue, FROM AWAY, which premiered at the Portland Stage Company. Mr Jones received a Rockefeller Foundation Grant in Playwriting in 1986, and throughout the eighties served as Playwright-in-Residence at the Portland Stage Company and the Mad Horse Theater Company, where four of his plays premiered: VANISHING POINTS, SQUATS, DARK RIVER, and YOU CAN'T GET THERE FROM HERE. In 1991, Jones co-authored the screenplay for the H B O/Lorimar film Prison Stories: Women on the Inside, which had its premiere at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival, and was originally broadcast on H B O in January 1991. The film was nominated for a Cable Ace Award in the Best Dramatic Special category. Two of his other film scripts, Second Skin and Scarlet Moon are under option in Hollywood. Mr Jones currently lives in Springfield, Missouri, where he teaches creative writing at Southwest Missouri State University.

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 9/1/2003
Pages 200
ISBN 9780881452198

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:

Premiered at Northlight Theater Company, Evanston IL

The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
West Memphis Mojo is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC