The Niceties

Performance Dates
Opening Performance

Zoe, a Black student at an elite liberal arts college, and Janine, her renowned history professor, who is White, meet in Janine’s office to discuss Zoe’s paper for a course on revolutions. The premise of her paper is that the American Revolution would not have succeeded if not for the existence of slavery.

What begins as a polite clash in perspectives explodes into an urgent debate about race, history, and power. Their interaction becomes a microcosm of famous world rebellions. Janine preaches that moderate revolutions, though they leave many injustices unaddressed, are much more likely to succeed radical revolutions. Zoe counters that incremental improvements are no longer enough and that a radical revolution is the only way to effect real change.

Written by Eleanor Burgess, the play was originally developed at the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, in 2017. Peter Marks of the Washington Post called it “one of the best plays I’ve seen about who gets to tell the story of America, and how.” When "The Niceties" had its world premiere at Huntington Theatre Company, the Boston Globe wrote “Burgess generates a verbal whirlwind with a words-per-minute velocity that rivals Aaron Sorkin.”

Production Information

Show Type
Approximate Running Time
110 minutes



Creative Team

Lighting Designer
Costume Consultant
Fight Choreographer
Lighting Advisor
Stage Manager
Props Designer/Master