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BY: Nikkole Salter


THE STORY:  2010, Essex County, NJ.  When Denitra loses

the charter school lottery for her daughter, she must find

another way to escape from their underperforming

neighborhood school. The answer seems like a risk well

worth taking, but may end up requiring a bigger sacrifice

than she ever could have imagined. Set over a half-century after Brown Versus The Board of Education, LINES IN THE DUST questions how far we've come and more importantly, where we go from here.  (Luna Stage Commission)



Two Acts

2 Women, 1 Man

LINES IN THE DUST was commissioned by and received its world premiere production at Luna Stage, October 9 - November 9 , 2014, directed by Reginald Douglas.   For information, photos, videos, audio and links to reviews and press from the Luna Stage production, and other productions this play has had, click here.  The West Coast Premiere of LINES (Nov. 2 - Dec. 10 - 2023) was directed by Desean K. Terry and produced by Collaborative Artists Bloc with support from Support Black Theatre at the Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles with the following creative team:


Starring: (l to r) Kelly Jenrette, Erica Tazel, and Tony Paqualini (w/ Tarina Pouncy)

Lighting Design:  Derrick McDaniel                                   Scenic Design:  Mark Mendelson
Costume Design:  Wendell C. Carmichael                          Sound Design: Alexis 

Fight Director:                                                                   Stage Manager: 

Dramaturg:  ARIANE NADA HELOU                                    Projection Design:  Sean Cawelti


Review:  Discover Hollywood Magazine - Lines in the Dust at the Matrix Theatre

By: Michael Edwards 

"The West Coast premiere of Obie Award Winning and Pulitzer nominated playwright Nikkole Salter's,  Lines In The Dust, is an exceptional new work at the Matrix Theatre...The world before us spirals down from there as Salter and Terry work to reveal a masterclass on a 'things are not always what they seem' storyline that all but shatters the audience. The set design is exceptional. Sound and light are seamless. The ball never drops in this brave new work that seems to cry out beyond its plot line to a world that would do well to release old social tropes of classism and racism. A powerful production."


Review:  People's World - “Lines in the Dust” dramatizes endemic race discrimination in public education

By: Eric Gordon - 11/09/2023

"Salter’s writing is prickly and on-point. Everybody’s coming from someplace, and has plenty of good reasons for saying what they say and behaving as they do. A playgoer’s empathy will extend to all, not in equal measure and not all the time. These are tough issues that American society must deal with, and sooner rather than later; but the nature of capitalism itself is what’s under the playwright’s magnifying glass. As shown by the ongoing and ever nastier war on public education itself, the social fabric is tearing apart day after day."

Review:  BroadwayWorld - Lines in the Dust at Matrix Theatre

By: Amanda Callas- 11/08/2023

"How do you steal a free education? That is the question posed by Lines in the Dust, a riveting social drama with brilliant performances at the Matrix Theatre on Melrose. Directed with searing intensity by Desean K. Terry, this groundbreaking play is now premiering on the West Coast...Chronicling the story of school residency fraud in the affluent township of Millburn, New Jersey, Lines in the Dust fearlessly tackles uncomfortable, vital issues of identity, education, class, race, and access to opportunity. While describing it, I feel it’s almost inevitable that I am making this play sound like a policy discourse or social treatise, but this enthralling drama is also incredibly human, passionate, and emotionally shattering. Lines in the Dust is a significant tour de force...Every moment on stage feels vibrantly alive and authentic. This is to the credit of the extraordinary writing, these three fearless actors, and unsurpassable direction by director, actor, writer and educator Desean K. Terry, founder of The Last Acting Studio, Co-Artistic Director of Collaborative Artists Bloc, and known for his work on The Morning Show, Southland, Shameless, ER, Monk, House, Grey's Anatomy, and NCIS Los Angeles."

Review:  Free Press - Lines in the Dust

By: Ed Rampell - 11/07/2023

"Salter’s compelling play dramatizes the fact that the barriers to blocking Blacks from attending good schools has not been confined to the Jim Crow South of the 1950s and 1960s...To be precise, it is 1,017 miles from Millburn to Montgomery, but in Salter’s incisive drama the emotional distance in terms of racist mentality is much closer than many Northerners may like to admit.

Review: Larchmont Village Life - Theatre Review: Lines in the dust

By Laura Foot Cohen - 11/07/2023

"Salter draws a clear “line” from Wallace’s ugly rallying cry to today’s cities, where the longtime effects of redlining, zoning and deeply ingrained racism perpetuate segregation... Salter perfectly captures the nuance of the systemic racism that puts diversity and safety on opposite sides of the right-to-education equation."


Review:  2UrbanGirls - Review: 'Lines in the Dust' by Pulitzer Prize nominee Nikkole Salter

By Emilie St. John - 11/06/2023

"Lines in the Dust’ is a gripping tale of the lengths parents will go through to ensure their child receives the best education possible and the lengths others will go to prevent it.  Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Nikkole Salter examines inequities in public education in her powerful, thought-provoking, and thoroughly engrossing ‘Lines In The Dust’, a debut collaboration between Collaborative Artists Bloc and Support Black Theatre at the Matrix in West Hollywood...The acting is superb. The set design is modern. And this story will resonate with every person who takes the time to see it.You will leave asking yourself “how far will I go for my child’s education?”


Review: Splash Magazines - Lines in the Dust Review - Is there Equality in Education

By Elaine Mura- 11/06/2023

"This reviewer can only add, “What an inauguration!” LINES IN THE DUST is a thought-provoking, gripping piece of theater which will appeal to all audiences and is an outstanding example of inclusiveness. It takes a broad intellectual concept and poignantly transforms it into a personal, intimate, and touching story."


Review:  StageSceneLA - Lines in the Dust

"Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Nikkole Salter examines inequities in public education in her powerful, thought-provoking, thoroughly engrossing Lines In The Dust, a memorable debut collaboration between Collaborative Artists Bloc and Support Black Theatre at the Matrix...Playwright Salter certainly gives an audience plenty to think about (and hash over with each other after the show), not the least of which is how to define what’s right and what’s wrong when the quality of a child’s education is at stake.

She’s also created two richly layered, fully developed black female characters each of whom could easily have found herself in the other’s shoes had circumstances been different, which is why having Jenrette and Tazel alternate in the roles makes brilliant sense."


Feature: Broadway World - Interview: Kelly Jenrette Doesn't Draw Lines in the Dust

By Gil Kaan 11/05/2023

"What would your three-line pitch of Lines in the Dust be?

I would start by asking, ‘Have you ever judged a book by its cover and been proven wrong?’ If you come see Lines in the Dust, you’ll see that it rips off the mask that we all wear. You’ll get to see what happens when we are completely vulnerable and left with resources that we have to get from other people.

Are you familiar with any of Nikkole Salter’s other works?

I am not but I will be after this play!"


Feature: Wave Publication - Support Black Theatre helps stage Lines in the Dust

By Darlene Donloe 10/26/2023

Support Black Theatre, which has helped Black theaters raise $1 million, is currently, along with Collaborative Artists Bloc, the Last Acting Studio and Natasha Ward, collectively presenting the West Coast premiere of a new adaptation of “Lines in the Dust,” directed by Los Angeles native Desean K. Terry, who is also the co-artistic director of Collaborative Artists Bloc.

The show was written by Los Angeles-born writer and Obie Award-winning actress Nikkole Salter, chair of the Department of Theatre Arts within Howard University’s Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts.

Collaborative Artists Bloc is dedicated to bringing together artists to collaborate and create content of human and artistic value for social change. Support Black Theatre selected Collaborative Artists Bloc to participate in its New Works Pipeline Series, which includes presenting its inaugural play, the Los Angeles premiere of “Lines in the Dust.”

“This is just the first production,” said Brown, 47, a married mother of two daughters. “There will be more.”

In “Lines in the Dust,” when Denitra loses the charter school lottery for her daughter, she must find another way to escape from their underperforming neighborhood school. The show, set over a half-century after Brown vs. Board of Education, stars Ovation and NAACP Theatre Award-winner Erica Tazel and Emmy-nominated Kelly Jenrette, who will both play the roles of Beverly and Denitra.

“I was surprised how deeply this story impacted me after I first read it, especially the ending,” said Terry, who received his bachelor of arts degree in theater and English from Loyola Marymount; and a master’s of fine arts in acting and acting teaching from Cal State Long Beach. He also is a graduate of the Juilliard School.

“I think that people will relate to the different perspectives that Nikkole has cleverly created within this play,” Terry said. “They’ll see these dualities within themselves. When one of the characters talks about choosing between the possibility of being successful or keeping a sense of self, it’s a reminder that the flaws in capitalism always seem to hit hardest in marginalized communities. One of the traps is when you give up on yourself.”


















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