GRAND DRAGON IN POWER
by Donald. E. Baker
Nothing is sacred and no woman is safe. Grand Dragon D.C. Stephenson takes control of an entire state on a platform of anti-immigration and Protestant moral values. He is brought down only when he is convicted of murder after a brutal rape results in the death of one of his girlfriends. This tale of demagoguery, misogyny, and xenophobia is inspired by true events. Although it is set in the 1920’s, it resonates with echoes of today’s society and politics.
- Cast Size: 4M 2W
- Running Time: 90+ minutes
- Royalty Rate: $75 per performance
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I had a knot in my stomach reading this play. A tremendous achievement in capturing the angst of truth in such trying times. I imagined myself as an actor portraying the unsavory main character and knew it would be a feat of acting, but a wound to the soul. Bravo to Donald Baker for crafting this unflinching look at the past, this damning commentary of the present, and, hopefully, this effective warning for the future.
Morey Norkin recommended Grand Dragon in Power by Donald E. Baker
“What a chilling tale! Chilling because it is based on true events from the 1920s that sadly sound too familiar in the 2020s. A KKK leader who gains political and financial power by stirring up the most despicable prejudices of his “base.” And when finally charged with rape and murder, his defense is to attack the character of the victim. Baker has written an important play. I hope someday we all learn its lessons.”
I didn’t know this story about the Grand Dragon of the Klan in Indiana who was convicted of murder and rape in the 1920s. I was completely sucked in and loved watching DC Stephenson get his comeuppance, since politicians these days who spew hate and rape women seem to get away with it. The parallels to today made Stephenson’s last line even more unsettling. What a captivating, horrifying, well-written play
Absolutely tragic that an innocent woman – whose only objective was to find love and to have a better life – would have to pay the ultimate price in the process. If anything positive is to be gleaned from it, it’s that her death played a significant role in the downfall of what was regarded as the second manifestation of the KKK. Baker delivers a riveting drama filled with compelling characters and tightly crafted dialogue. The play is set in 1925 but it could just as well be set in 2025 since not much has changed. Exceptional work,
I loved the play even though it scared the bejesus out of me. I wanted to think of it as a story safely locked away in history, but of course it is not. Don Baker has a gift for bringing words to life and making the past eerily real and present.
“Grand Dragon in Power” would make an amazing companion piece with Baker’s “Trade with Klan” for an ambitious repertory theatre to produce on separate nights. Both pieces evoke a time and place from long ago in the Midwest that is eerily relevant to today, and not just in one region of the country. Creative non-fiction is a challenge to dramatize, but Baker does it so well and makes it seem so effortless. These plays need audiences to shed light on how one man’s thirst for power and unchecked privilege make him increasingly monstrous with each scene. Exceptional on many levels.
An absolutely chilling tale deftly told via characters who ring true to the era. Knowing this story is based on true events sadly underscores its relevance to the socio-political climate of today. Baker is a master at dialogue that sets each character apart and yet brings them together in a sense of time and place. I felt the fear and the power of each moment just reading the play. Imagine what could happen when this excellent work is fully staged.