“I’ll kick yer ole door down!
Lemme out! Lemme out!”

Sump’n Like Wings is the story of Willie Baker, a 16 year old girl too proud and too wild for the life she’s living. Her mother runs the dining room in the hotel her uncle owns. Willie is stuck helping her, squirming under her thumb while her uncle argues for tenderness and compassion.

“You cain’t keep her in a place
that’s got a lid on it.
She’s got sump’n inside of her like wings,
and she’ll beat off the cover,
and she’ll go away…”

Sump’n Like Wings is a story of the lessons learned by families about freedom and limits—about love, respect, and safety. It’s a story about home and about leaving home.

Sump’n Like Wings is set in Oklahoma, six years after the Indian and Oklahoma Territories became the 46th state in the Union in 1907. Lynn Riggs owes his lasting fame to the musical named after his home state, Oklahoma!, based on his 1930 play Green Grow the Lilacs.

Three times New York producers took out options on Sump’n Like Wings, but those options all lapsed without a production*. Written in 1925, published in 1928, Sump’n Like Wings played ‘One Night Only’ on November 27, 1931 at the Detroit Playhouse. The following year a Flemish translation was produced in Brussels, where it made “a profound impression.”

Beginning September 21, 2024, Mint Theater Company will present the New York Premiere, which remains a resonant and compelling story about love, family and home.

Rollie Lynn Riggs (August 31, 1899 – June 30, 1954) An enrolled Cherokee of mixed descent, Lynn Riggs wrote about the people, places, and events of his childhood, growing up in Oklahoma in the eventful years at the turn of the century.

Riggs attended the University of Oklahoma but left before graduating to pursue a career in writing and theater. He spent time in Santa Fe before moving to New York City in the 1920s, where he became part of the literary and artistic community of Greenwich Village.

His first major play, Big Lake, was produced in 1927 in a production that featured a young Stella Adler. However, it was Green Grow the Lilacs, written in 1930 and produced by the Theatre Guild in 1931, that brought him the most recognition. The play served as the basis for Oklahoma! by Rodgers and Hammerstein in 1943, a milestone in musical theater history.

As a gay man, Riggs lived cautiously and was discreet about his sexuality, but his plays reveal a deep understanding of the outsider and their complex relationship to the larger community. Some of Riggs’s other notable plays include Rancor (1928), Roadside (1930), The Cherokee Night (1932), A Lantern to See By (1928) and Russet Mantle (1936).

He continued to write until his death from stomach cancer in 1954 in New York City. By the end of his life, Riggs had written some thirty plays and scripts for fourteen films produced between 1930 and 1955. His works remain an important part of American literary and theatrical history, offering rich portrayals of rural life and cultural heritage, though they are seldom staged.

EnrichMint Event with Jace Weaver

Saturday September 29 after the Matinee

Jace Weaver is the founding Director of the Institute of Native American Studies at the University of Georgia. Weaver has written about Lynn Riggs several times, including in his seminal work of Native American literary history That the People Might Live: Native American Literature and Native American Community.

Excerpt from Jace Weaver’s Forward to The Cherokee Night and Other Plays:

Silence—even taciturnity—seldom makes for great drama, but Lynn Riggs knew Oklahomans. More so than his contemporary John Steinbeck, he heard them and gave them voice. In his preface to Green Grows the Lilacs, writing of the task of a dramatist, he concluded, “And sometimes, his characters may do stirring things he could never have calculated. And sometime, if he is fortunate, he may hear from the people he has set in motion (as Shakespeare and Chekhov often heard) things to astonish him and things to make him wise.”