by Jenifer Nii

APRIL 13-23, 2023

Run time: 45 minutes

Wallace Thurman was a queer Black man in Salt Lake City at the turn of the previous century. He attended West High School, the University of Utah, and Calvary Baptist Church.

He was also the heart of the Harlem Renaissance.

And he has been erased from Utah history.


This revival of our 2010 world premiere features Carleton Bluford (author of THE CLEAN-UP PROJECT) reprising the role of Wallace Thurman.

Designed by Madeline Ashton (scenic), Emma Belnap (lighting), Cheryl Ann Cluff (sound), Grey Rung (electrician), Aaron Swenson (show art and costumes), Adam Thomas (scenic builder). Stage managed by Kalista Vordos. Directed by Jerry Rapier.

Playwright Jenifer Nii has previously premiered her plays THE AUDACITY, “Influencer” as part of RADIO SLAM, THE WEIRD PLAY, “Damned If I Do” and “Spam” as part of (IN)DIVISIBLE, KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, RUFF!, "PDA," "Whiplash," and "Control_Alt_Delete"  as part of SLAM, SUFFRAGE, THE SCARLET LETTER, and FIRE! (under the umbrella WALLACE) with Plan-B.

In the fall of 2021, Jenifer was diagnosed with hippocampal atrophy: portions of her brain are calcifying. She is no longer able to write plays and is slowly losing her memory and ability to communicate.

FIRE! is a play for now, connecting two Utah writers of color separated by a century, the careers of both cut tragically short. Revisiting Jenifer's first work as her final Plan-B production is a fitting farewell to a barrier-breaking writer in conversation with and celebration of another.

In addition to launching Jenifer's playwriting career, FIRE! provided Carleton Bluford the unique opportunity to inhabit a character who faced many of the challenges he also faced growing up Black in Utah. This serendipitous fusion of actor and role gave Carleton the confidence to view himself as an Actor with a capital A, as well as sparking his own playwriting career.

In 2010, FIRE! focused on the power of this place we call home. In 2023, the play comes full circle, insisting that kindred spirits Jenifer Nii and Wallace Thurman claim their space in Utah history through the power of Carleton Bluford's singular performance.


ASL-Interpreted Performance/Post-Show Discussion: Saturday, April 15, 4pm

Sensory Friendly Performance: Saturday, April 22, at 4pm


Given the funkiness of our space and the ever-changing pandemic:
- proof of vaccination is no longer required, based on the science that masking is the most effective protection in public gatherings.
- well-fitting, KN95 or N95 masks are required (available at no cost at the door).
- this production is seating at reduced capacity.


Utah Black History Museum Exhibit on the Mezzanine: We are thrilled and honored to host a free UBHM exhibit that includes Wallace Thurman (!) on the Mezzanine (accessible by elevator).

Friday, April 14: 11:30am-1:30pm and 7-10pm
Saturday, April 15: 3-10pm
Sunday, April 16: 12-4pm

A ticket to FIRE! is not required to experience the exhibit.


The Wallace Thurman image embedded in Aaron Asano Swenson's show art is Trent Call's portrait of Wallace Thurman from the 2010 exhibit "Uconclcasts" by Trent Call and Ken Sanders. Copyright 2010-2023 by the artists. All rights reserved.

The Collected Writings of Wallace Thurman: A Harlem Renaissance Reader edited by Amritjit Singh and Daniel M. Scott III

The one and only issue of Wallace Thurman's magazine FIRE!!

High school study guide to FIRE! by Jenifer Nii, prepared by Sharah Meservy and reviewed by Aliyah Bacca

Digital Playbill