John Edgar Wideman

WordTheatre returns for a sixth season to Chapman University on Monday, Feb. 5, when film and television actors will bring to life the short stories of John Edgar Wideman, a writer widely acclaimed for his work exploring the African-American experience.

Acclaimed actors Roger Guenveur Smith (Do The Right Thing, American Gangster, Dope) and Gary Dourdan (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Alien: Resurrection) will read Wideman’s work beginning at 7 p.m. in the Fish Interfaith Center. Admission is free and seating is on first-come, first-served.

Smith is also the voice for the audiobook of Wideman’s most recent Writing to Save A Life: The Louis Till File, which traces the life of the father of iconic Civil Rights martyr Emmett Til – a man who was executed by the Army ten years before Emmett’s murder.

WordTheatre is a unique program that pairs the work of award-winning short story writers with the talents of top actors to create a unique literary and artistic evening. At Chapman, student readers are also included in the program. This year they include Antonio Onofre Abarca, Tommie Russell and Brandon James Somerville.

Featured student actors

More about John Edgar Wideman

Wideman is a MacArthur genius and a two-time winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award. He was the second African-American Rhodes scholar and studied 18th-century narrative at Oxford. He played basketball for Penn State and wrote Hoop Roots: Basketball, Race, and Love.

He has written nearly 20 books of fiction and nonfiction, including the novels Two Cities (Houghton Mifflin, 1998), The Cattle Killing (Houghton Mifflin, 1996), and Philadelphia Fire (Henry Holt, 1990). His articles, short stories, book reviews and poetry have appeared widely in periodicals.