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Marcia Cebulska





Marcia Cebulska is a playwright who adopted Kansas as her home in 1997. She studied at Barnard College, the women's school at Columbia, where she got her degree in philosophy. Cebulska has traveled extensively, living in places such as Chicago, Miami, Mexico City, New York City, Bloomington, Seattle, Copenhagen, Athens and the Greek Islands.

Marcia eventually settled down in Topeka and has written extensivelyabout Kansas with her plays Now Let Me Fly, Through Martha's Eyes, Visions of Right, Touched, and her most recent piece, Rooted: The Greensburg Odyssey, about the Greensburg, Kansas, tornado.

Now Let Me Fly was written while in residence at the William Inge Center for the Arts. She has been playwright-in-residence at The University of Georgia, Mary Anderson Center for the Arts, Shenandoah Playwrights Retreat, and Marion College. She has taught playwriting at Indiana University and Independence College. Her play Florida was chosen for development at the prestigious Eugene O'Neill Center's National Playwrights Conference. Her play When The Bough Breaks was reviewed as "The Phoenix Theatre’s Best Play Ever." Marcia is a member of The Dramatists Guild and Chicago Dramatists.

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Published Work ( - housed in Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection)  
  Cebulska has had numerous works produced including:
  • Now Let Me Fly (2009, Involved Brown vs Board of Education and featured Martin Luther King jr's daughter)
  • Touched - about William Inge
  • Through Martha's Eyes - Nationally televised
  • Florida - O'Neil Confrence
  • Visions of Right - About Fred Phelps
  • And When The Bow Breaks - Phoenix Theatre
  • Tick Tock - written in conjunction with The Waiting Room Project
  • Centaurs
  • Dear John
  • That One Thing
  • Belongings
  • Flight

Most of these scripts can be accessed from Marcia's Website.

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Writing Samples  

Now Let Me Fly

It is the spring of 1951 and a young woman, Barbara Johns, age 16, is about to speak. Listen to the people, Mr. Marshall.

[HOUSTON escorts BARBARA JOHNS forward to address a school assembly.]


Every morning I get on a bus thrown away by the white high school on the hill. I sit on a torn seat and look out a broken window. And when my bus passes the shiny new bus that the white high schoolers have, I hide my face because I'm embarrassed in my raggedy bus.   

 And when we get to R. R. Moton High, the bus driver gets off with us, because he's also our history teacher.    He comes in the classroom and fires up the stove and I sit in my winter coat waiting for the room to get warm. You know the rooms, the ones in the "addition" as they call it. We call them "the tar paper shacks" because that's what they are, am I right?

  I'm embarrassed that I go to school in tar paper shacks and when it rains I have to open an umbrella so the leaks from the roof won't make the ink run on my paper. And later in the day I have a hygiene class out in that broken-down bus and a biology class in a corner of the auditorium with one microscope for the whole school. I'm embarrassed that our water fountains are broken and our wash basins are broken and it seems our whole school is broken and crowded and poor. And I'm embarrassed. But my embarrassment is nothing compared to my hunger. I'm not talking about my hunger for food. No, I'm hungry for those shiny books they have up at Farmville High. I want the page of the Constitution that is torn out of my social studies book. I want a chance at that "Romeo and Juliet" I've heard about but they tell me I'm not fit to read. Our teachers say we can fly just as high as anyone else. That's what I want to do. Fly just as high. I said, fly. You know, I've been sitting in my embarrassment and my hunger for so long that I forgot about standing up. So, today, I'm going to ask you to stand with me.

   Before we fly, before we fly just as high as anyone else, we gotta walk just as proud as anyone else. And that's what we're going to do! We're gonna walk out of this school and over to the courthouse. Do you hear me? We're gonna walk with our heads high and go talk to the school board. Are you with me? We're gonna walk out in a strike, yes, I said strike, and we won't come back until we get a real school with a gymnasium and library and whole books. And we will get them. And it'll be grand.

Are you with me? Are we gonna walk? Are we gonna fly?

[BARBARA starts walking and singing.]

[Music-- "This Little Light of Mine." The chorus of actors joins in.]

This little light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine
This little light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine
This little light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

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Through Martha's Eyes


WE see hills and open prairie in the rosy late afternoon

Kansas Territory
May, 1856

A wagon appears on the horizon.

CAMERA moves in more closely on the wagon.

WE see two well-fed middle-aged Southern white men riding in the front seat: REVEREND THOMAS JOHNSON and JUDGE RUSH ELMORE. In the back of the wagon are provisions--sacks of sugar, coffee, tea, etc. Sitting in the midst of the supplies is a 15-year-old black girl, her wrists tied to the wagon. A closer look shows that the girl?s face is suppressing a grin.

Mr. Reverend done put down eight hundred dollar for me an' my heart be a-smilin'. Ah done heard 'bout these ablishnull preachers payin' money for us Negroes and then settin' us free and shore 'nuff, here's one takin' me to the promised land. No more slave cabin! No more lashes on the back! Oh, Ah be quiet-like on the outside but all Hallelujah on the inside.

We can hear fiddle music playing in the distance. Through the open windows of the big house, we can see gentlemen and ladies dancing.


MARTHA and JOHN dance together, imitating the white gentlemen and ladies' dance, a kind of mock minuet or Virginia reel.

Ah think it be like so.

Demonstrates, moves her around a little. MARTHA giggles.

No, no. They go this way and then this way.

Demonstrates. THEY both laugh.

Y'know what? My mama and daddy dance more like this.

SHE snaps her fingers to start up the rhythm. SHE claps her hands and HE joins in. SHE moves around, at first tentatively, then proudly. JOHN strums the rhythms on his bag, simulating a drum.

C'mon. C'mon, on your feet!

THEY dance together. We watch them be together, happy. HE holds her at the end of the song.

Don't forget. Don't ever forget to dance like yer own people.

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Visions of Right

You're that photographer lady we picketed at the university, arencha?

That's me. The sodomite whore photographer going to hell.

You're pretty good then, to get a show all by yourself like that.

Then why did you picket me?

You're hangin' around with faggots and Jews.

My husband? My best friend?

Beware the company you keep. "The worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee." Isaiah 14:11

"The world breaks everyone." Ernest Hemingway, A FAREWELL TO ARMS. So what broke you?

I think the question you're looking for the answer to is: what broke you? Or who? Wasn't me. Tho' you'd like it to be. It'd be right handy, wouldn't it?

You are a bigoted old man preaching hateful things.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Do you ever take pictures of more than just tricycles and such? Do you ever take pictures of people? People are juicy. See, look at me. Much better than some damn fool tricycle.

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Marcia Cebulska's Website  

Marcia's Website

Marcia's Facebook page

Capitol Journal article (2004)

Now Let Me Fly website

The Ad Astra Theatre Ensemble

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