In 1964, a white man walks into a public restroom in a Washington, DC park looking for sex. The next man who enters is a black man.
The Seat Next to the King explores the lives of two men who literally sat next to the most powerful men in America. Bayard Rustin, a friend to Martin Luther King Jr. and the organizer of the March on Washington, and Walter Jenkins, top aide and friend to President Lyndon Johnson, meet in that restroom, although neither knows the other's identity yet. Each is a symbol of hope and change in 1964, and each is conflicted about his sexuality.
The two men move to a motel on the outskirts of the park, where they begin to confide in each other, a revealing of their lives which evolves into an intimate evening of release.
They won't see each other again for eighteen years, when they meet by chance -- in another restroom -- near the end of their lives, during an era when the hope of a better world has vanished.
Steven Elliott Jackson is an award-winning playwright and artistic director of Minmar Gaslight Productions and its family theatre company, 3 Little Bears Productions with his partner Todd Davies and Stephen English. His play The Seat Next to the King won Best New Play and Patron's Pick at The Toronto Fringe in 2017 and his play The State of Tennessee placed second in the same contest in 2007.
Previous playwriting credits include: Brothers and Arms (2010, Toronto Fringe), The Dark Part of the Snow (2011, Mount Marty College, Yankton, SD), Real Life Superhero (2012, Winchester Street Theatre), The State of Tennessee (2013, Theatre Passe Muraille), Rapunzel (adaptation from the work of Geri Gans, 2014, Toronto Fringe), Threesome: An Evening of One-Acts (2016, Red Sandcastle Theatre).
Steven was born and raised in the very small town of Minto, Manitoba and went to the University of Regina to study theatre and film before moving to Toronto.
The script is taut, tense and full of nuance about race, sexuality, power and dignity..."--NOW Magazine
"A cracking terrific play that delves into sexual politics at a time when it was dangerous to even talk about them... Steven Elliott Jackson has written a thoughtful, unsettling play about gay politics."--Slotkin Letter
"Two men reach out for each other in times of division and change in the intimate, tender, layered The Seat Next to the King."-- Life with More Cowbell
"I was literally and figuratively on the edge of my seat for the whole show."-- Mooney on Theatre
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