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Linda Bannister and James E. Hurd Jr.Linda Bannister and James E. Hurd Jr.

Linda Bannister , professor of English at Loyola Marymount University, has a Ph.D. in Rhetoric, Linguistics, and Literature from the University of Southern California. She is the inaugural holder of an endowed chair, the Daum Professorship of the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts at LMU. Bannister has been writing plays with co-author James Hurd since 2001. Bannister and Hurd are the Producing and Artistic Directors, respectively, of Los Angeles-based Theater Company, The Kohl Players www.kohlplayers.com.

James E. Hurd, Jr. was raised in Wewahitchka, Florida, and began his theatre work at Florida State University and Florida A&M, where he starred in “The Mighty Gents” and “Room Beneath the Blues.” Since moving to Los Angeles in the late 80’s, his leading role L.A. stage work includes “Sentence of Silence,” “No Longer an Alien,” “Living on the Edge,” “The Split,” “Room 1222,” “Peeled” and “Speaking of Charlie,” which recently opened at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre. His film debut was in “Something Wild” with Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels, and he has since appeared in many independent features and television dramas. Hurd is also a playwright and director, writing civil rights-themed dramas with his co-author, Linda Bannister. Their one-act, “One Sunday in Mississippi,” concerning the murders of three civil rights workers in 1964 by the KKK, was featured at the 2003 National Black Theater Festival. Their drama, Turpentine Jake, was first read at the 2007 National Black Theater Festival. Hurd also co-authored (with Bannister) and directed a short film, Poet of the Swingin’ Blade, which was screened at eight international film festivals and won “Best Message Film” at The San Diego Black Film Festival 2007.

Turpentine Jake

Turpentine Jake is a slice-of-life in the Florida Turpentine camps of the 1930’s, where Black workers were enslaved under “debt peonage” in the pine forests of Florida and Georgia with only their stories, songs, and magic to help them survive. Based on interviews with surviving centenarian turpentiners and the recollections of co-author James Hurd’s own Grandfather, Turpentine Jake is the true story of one turpentiner who escaped the camps. The play includes original work songs and folktales.