Known primarily as a novelist, Thomas Wolfe also wrote plays, training under George Pierce Baker in his influential 47 Workshop at Harvard. WELCOME TO OUR CITY—a searing examination of race relations inspired by events in Wolfe’s hometown—was produced at Harvard in 1923 but was never performed professionally in America until the Mint’s production in 2000.

The action of the play centers on a scheme of the town fathers and real estate promoters of Altamont (Asheville, NC) to snatch up all the property in a centrally located black district, evict the tenants, tear down their houses and shops, and build a new white residential section in its place. When the blacks, under the leadership of a strong-willed doctor, resist eviction, a race riot breaks out-shattering both the precarious social balance of the city and the “progressive” dreams of Altamont’s boosters.

“The Mint has unearthed a real gem,” hailed the New York Post. “This is a drama of immense social force. Wolfe knew what he was writing about. The blend of qualities in people, their racism and greed, their humanity and hope is startling and shocking. What a loss was Wolfe’s voice for our stage. What a discovery Jonathan Bank’s Mint Theater has made.”1

Thomas Wolfe (Playwright) As one of America’s most revered novelists, Thomas Wolfe was hailed by critics as being “among the immortals of American letters.”  But before he achieved success and fame with Look Homeward, Angel, Of Time and the River and You Can’t Go Home Again, Thomas Wolfe first had aspirations to become a playwright.  He was born on October 3, 1900 as the youngest of eight children in Asheville, North Carolina.  Wolfe was privately educated and shortly before his sixteenth birthday he entered the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as an undergraduate.  Upon graduation and determined for a career as a successful dramatist, he enrolled in Professor George Pierce Baker’s renowned 47 Workshop at Harvard University in 1920.  He received his Master of Arts degree in Literature in two years, but stayed an extra year to gain further experience in the 47 Workshop.  However, his writing style and personal temperament proved to be ill suited for the theatre.  Frustrated at being unable to get his plays produced, he accepted a teaching position at New York University where he taught English intermittently between 1924 and 1930.  In 1926, while abroad in Germany, Wolfe began recollecting and writing about his childhood in Asheville, which he called Altamont.  The result became Look Homeward, Angel, instantly acclaimed as an American classic, and later successfully adapted for the Broadway stage.  With the success of Look Homeward, Angel and a subsequent Guggenheim Fellowship, Wolfe went back to Europe to write.  Upon his return to the States, he spent much of the remainder of his life in New York, until he died of tuberculosis of the brain on September 15, 1938 in Baltimore.  Richard Watts, Jr. wrote in the New York Herald Tribune of Wolfe’s untimely death, “I do not see how any one in any way concerned with American letters can fail to be plunged into deep mourning over the death of Thomas Wolfe.  Wild, dark, and beautiful was his muse, and his spirit was a heroic one.”


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  • Henry Sorrell Haakon Jepsen
  • Joseph Bailey Patrick Riviere
  • Tyson Ward Asquith
  • Governor Preston Carr David Winton
  • Helen Neely Robyne Parrish
  • Dan Reed Bergin Michaels
  • Mr. Jordan Larry Swansen
  • Old Sorrell T.D. White
  • Uncle Amos Frank Swingler
  • Mr. Rutledge Lee Moore
  • Lee Rutledge Michael Moore
  • McIntyre Ward Asquith
  • Dr. Johnson Eric R. Moreland
  • Professor Hutchings Jonathan Tindle
  • Bull Michael LiDondici
  • Annie Johnson Sylver Gregory
  • Mrs. Rutledge Colleen Smith Wallnau
  • Pickens Gaffney John Lyndsay Hall
  • Slewfoot Brocton Pierce
  • Sam Tipton Don Clark Williams
  • Sykes Gregory Mikell
  • Rev. Smallwood T.D. White
  • Colonel Grimes Michael LiDondici


  • Set Design Vicki R. Davis
  • Lighting Design Randy Glickman
  • Costume Design Elly Van Horne
  • Music and Sound Design Ellen Mandel
  • Properties Design Janine Pangburn
  • Fight Choreographer Michael Chin
  • Stage Manager Francis Eric E. Montesa
  • Rehearsal Stage Manager Adam Muller
  • Press Representative David Gersten & Associates
  • Graphic Design Hey Jude Design, Inc.


Professor Richard Kennedy, author of The Window of Memory: The Literary Career of Thomas Wolfeand the scholar responsible for editing the published text of WELCOME TO OUR CITY, leads a post-show discussion on the playwright and his work.