The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Acclaimed actor brings stage play to South Campus

Charles S. Dutton
Charles S. Dutton

By Montreal Spencer/south news editor

Charles S. Dutton
Charles S. Dutton

Three-time Emmy Award winner Charles S. Dutton will perform his play From Jail to Yale … Serving Time on Stage on South Campus.

Dutton, star of the ’90s Fox sitcom Roc, has played in numerous blockbusters, including A Time To Kill, Gothika, Menace II Society, The Distinguished Gentleman and Crocodile Dundee 2.

The one-man show will begin at 7:15 p.m. Nov. 7 in the Carillon Theatre in the Joe B. Rushing Center for Performing Arts on South Campus. Dutton’s autobiographical play illustrates how he literally went from jail to Yale.

Dutton was in and out of reform school and dropped out in the seventh grade. At age 17, he was convicted of manslaughter for stabbing a man who stabbed him eight times in a street fight.

After a two-year prison stay, Dutton was released on parole but sent right back to prison for possession of a deadly weapon.

His three-year sentence transformed into an 11-year sentence after he assaulted a prison guard.

It was in prison where Dutton found his calling to be an actor when he read a book with short plays by African-American playwrights. Day of Absence by Douglas Turner Ward inspired him, and he created a drama group with other inmates. They began to put on performances.

After recovering from a stab wound that hospitalized him for two months, Dutton was sent to another prison where he got his high school equivalency diploma. He was allowed to take classes at a local junior college. He received an associate degree and was paroled the same year.

After his release, he went to Towson State University and majored in theater. He was persuaded to apply to Yale Drama School by a professor. He was shocked when he got accepted.

Dutton accepted an invitation to attend the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s 20th Anniversary Sisterhood Luncheon.

“We approached Mr. Dutton’s representatives because some of our members heard him speak before and thought he’d be a great addition to the luncheon,” sorority representative Deborah Cuffee said. “We started having conversations how we could make it happen, and he offered to do his play.”

South Campus President Ernest Thomas, scheduled to be on the luncheon panel, offered South Campus as the play’s venue.

“He offered the facility to us, and we are very grateful he offered that it be done at Tarrant County South Campus,” Cuffee said.

Dutton was also interested that some of the Campus theater classes were currently studying him and The Piano Lesson, a play he has performed.

At $40 a ticket, some students, like South student Jasmine Kelly, are unsure if they can attend.

“I would like to see it, but that’s a lot of money. But it does seem interesting,” she said.

Kistina Davis, South student and front desk worker in the counseling center, is a Dutton fan.

“He is the man. He’s a celebrity. He is the bomb. He’s done so many shows I’ve seen. I want to go,” she said.

South student Erma Dailey is a theater student and a longtime fan.

“I’ve been watching him since Roc. He’s a great performer and an awesome actor,” she said. “My class just did a paper on The Piano Lesson. If I get a chance to see him I will. That’s a once-in- a-lifetime opportunity. I’ll pay that 40 bucks.”

South student Tranevius Menefee said that is a lot of money, but he would like to go.

“If I ain’t got nothing else to do, and I got a little extra change in my pocket, I might go with a girl and see the play,” he said. 

Donate to The Collegian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tarrant County College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Collegian