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Wedding Band Digital Study Guide.



Wedding Band


Wedding Band
By Alice Childress
Directed by Sam White

House Program for Wedding Band

Grade Recommendation 8+

Content Advisory

Please see the show page for a detailed audience advisory.


The American South in 1918 is a dangerous place for an interracial relationship, but Julia, a fiercely independent Black seamstress, will not give in to law or convention. Her white fiancé Herman hatches a plan for the couple to emigrate to New York City, where they can be legally married, but when he is stricken by the influenza virus, the couple's love will be tested like never before. A profound meditation on injustice and intolerance, Wedding Band resonates more than ever in this time of racial reckoning and a virulent pandemic.

Celebrated Black playwright Alice Childress wrote Wedding Band in the early 1960s, as the Civil Rights era was giving way to a wave of political radicalism and identity politics. The play's setting offered Childress fertile ground for considering the social and political upheavals of her own time. Wedding Band opens near the end of the First World War, when labour unionists and suffragettes across the globe were demanding equal rights and pay for women and the working classes. In America, the New Negro Movement, a precursor to the Civil Rights Movement, was finding revolutionary artistic expression in the Harlem Renaissance. The Jim Crow period depicted in the play also bore many cruel resemblances to Childress's own time. Although mixed marriages were no longer technically illegal, interracial couples paid a high price for daring to love outside the lines laid down by a racist society.

The themes of Wedding Band remain compelling to contemporary audiences. Racism is alive, its full reckoning long overdue, and marginalization remains a daily reality for people across identities. The love story at the heart of the play, and Julia's inspiring struggle for full personhood, offer a powerful rebuttal to the powers that keep all unjust structures in place.

Curriculum Connections

  • Global Competencies:
    • Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, Creativity, Metacognition, Self-Awareness
  • Grade 8
    • The Arts (Drama, Music, Visual Arts)
    • Language
    • Social Studies
  • Grade 9-12
    • The Arts (Drama, Music, Visual Arts)
    • Canadian and World Studies
    • English
  • Grades 11-12
    • Social Science and Humanities


  • Belonging
  • Bias, Discrimination, Prejudice, Stereotyping and Stigma
  • Feminism
  • Identity
  • Interracial Love and Relationships
  • Intersectionality
  • Love Over Hate
  • Patriotism
  • Racism, Racial Tensions and Internalized Racism
  • Responsibility, Integrity and Perspective
  • Social Attitudes and Inequity
  • War & Epidemics
  • White Supremacy and White Privilege




  • What do you already know about Alice Childress?
  • We all hold multiple identities, including age, gender, religious or spiritual affiliation, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Think about which identities you hold. How do they affect the way in which you interact with others and exist in the world?
  • What is prejudice? Are there instances of prejudice in your school and/or community? What examples can you think of? Are these prejudices accepted or combatted? Why do you think this is the case?
  • How would you define racism? How have understandings of race and racism changed since this play was written? How have they changed in the past few years? What remains the same?
  • Do you think we all have implicit or unconscious biases? Why or why not? How does bias impact your understanding of and conversations about race?
  • Does everyone feel pressure to "fit in"? What does that look like and mean to you? What is the difference between fitting in and belonging? How might these pressures/desires impact the choices of different characters?
  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how comfortable are you when it comes to talking about race and racism? Why do you think that this topic is uncomfortable for some people?
  • In your opinion, what role do theatre and performance play in terms of encouraging audience members to think more critically about issues of social justice?
  • What is the difference between "intent" and "impact"? How are they connected?
  • What might stories set during wartime or epidemics have in common?
  • "When you know better, you do better." What does this quote by Maya Angelou mean to you? Do you agree or disagree? Why? How could you put the meaning of this quote into action in your own life? What are some concrete steps individuals can take to actually do better once they know better?


  • Alice Childress wrote this play in the early 1960s, but like her other work, there was resistance to producing it. Why do you think her work is now seeing a resurgence?
  • Do you agree with Julia's choices in the play? Why or why not?
  • Did you expect Herman to choose his mother over Julia? Why or why not?
  • In your opinion, which character was the most powerful? Explain your thinking.
  • The Stratford Festival production preserves the original language, including the N-word. What do you think of this choice?
  • How did the set, costume, sound and lighting design of the play enhance the themes and content of the play? Can you share some specific examples?
  • Which moments in the play were most moving for you? Which moments were most challenging? Why?
  • This play is set in South Carolina during the First World War and the 1918 flu epidemic. How do you think this piece resonates with audiences right here, right now, in 2023? Do you think that this play affects different audience members in different ways? How so?
  • In your opinion, what has changed in terms of racism, privilege and power between 1918, when the play is set, and 2023? What has not changed? Why do you think this is the case?
  • What can old plays tell us about present realities?
  • Are there any unintentional harms that might be caused through the production of this play? If so, what are they and what might be done to take care of the artists and audience members participating in the work?


Objective: Students will learn more about playwright Alice Childress and make connections between a playwright's life experience and the work they create.

Materials: Bristol board/chart paper, computer/access to the Internet, sticky notes or highlighters, writing utensils, black/white board or chalk/ markers, art supplies


  • Write the following headings on separate Bristol boards/large pieces of chart paper (one heading per paper):
    • Childhood/Early Years
    • Career
    • Activism
    • Major Plays
    • Legacy
  • Explain that the purpose of this activity is to learn more about playwright Alice Childress, who wrote Wedding Band.
  • Divide students into groups of five or six. Each student will need something to write with. Each group will begin with
    one Bristol board/large piece of chart paper with the headings (Childhood/Early Years, Career, Activism, Major
    Plays, Legacy).
  • Set a timer for five minutes and invite each group to write down all the questions they have about each heading, in
    addition to any information they already know. Remind them they can use point form notes.
  • When the timer goes off, have each group pass their Bristol board/chart paper counterclockwise to the next group.
    Repeat this until all groups have had a chance to add their questions and thoughts to each category.
  • Bring the Bristol board/chart to the front of the class and review each of the categories as a class.
  • Then, invite students to research Alice Childress with the goal of adding new information to each poster using sticky
    notes. Students may work independently or in small groups..
  • After having completed research and exploring resources, have students add their new information and facts to each
    Bristol board by using sticky notes.
  • Reflect as a class:
    • What new information did you learn?
    • What connections can you make from what you learned about Alice Childress to her play, Wedding Band?
    • What are your thoughts regarding theatre and live performance as a way to explore themes of social justice?
    • What statements was Alice Childress able to make through her art form?
    • What is her legacy?

Possible Extensions:

  • Students could create a podcast about Alice Childress, addressing the questions and information that they
    discovered during the Minds On exercise.
  • Invite students to explore and develop their media arts skills by creating a poster for the play with the aim of enticing
    people to come to the show.

Debriefing Questions:

  • Were you surprised by anything you learned?
  • What was the most interesting thing you learned about Alice Childress and/or her play, Wedding Band?
  • Does having a deeper understanding of the playwright enhance your overall experience of the play? In what ways?


Musical powerhouse Beau Dixon has appeared in two musicals at the Stratford Festival, playing Big Jule in Guys and Dolls and Bob Becket in HMS Pinafore in 2017. In 2021, the cabaret Freedom was conducted, musically arranged and directed by Beau Dixon, who also sang and played keyboard for the show. He will be stepping into a composer role for the 2023 production of Wedding Band

Beau Dixon in Freedom, 2021

Beau Dixon in Freedom, 2021. Direction, musical direction and musical arrangements by Beau Dixon. Lighting design by Kaileigh Krysztofiak. Sound design by Peter McBoyle. Photography by David Hou. Stratford Festival Archives, GPO.2021.002.0640b


What skills do you think he brings to all of these different artistic roles? Based on what you know about the play and about Beau Dixon as an artist, what do you imagine the musical composition will sound and feel like for Wedding Band?

The Stratford Festival's Archives maintains, conserves and protects records about the Festival and makes those materials available to people around the world. Their collection contains material ranging from 1952 right up to the present and includes administrative documents, production records, photographs, design artwork, scores, audio-visual recordings, promotional materials, costumes, props, set decorations and much more. These materials are collected and preserved with the aim of documenting the history of the Festival, preserving the page-to-stage process, and capturing the creative processes involved in numerous other activities that contribute to the Festival each season.



TrailerWedding Band
House Program - Wedding Band
Study Guide PDF - Wedding Band

Study Guides

View past Study Guides and Study Guides for all 2023 plays, available free of charge on our website.


The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom (Library of Congress)

A Conversation with Lighting Designer, Kathy A. Perkins and Hannah Rittner (The Digital Meighen Forum - Uprising Series -Wedding Band)

Jim Crow Laws (Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park, National Park Service)

The Life and Work of Allice Childress (Roundabout Theatre Company)

Loving V. Virginia (Oyez)

Meet Playwright Alice Childress (Utah Shakespeare Festival)

Respect for Marriage Act: Why Interracial Marriage is also in the Law (BBC)

Talking About Race and Racism (Southern Poverty Law Center's Learning for Justice)

Toolkit for "What is White Privilege, Really?" (Southern Poverty Law Center's Learning for Justice)

Why Groundbreaking Black Playwright Alice Childress is having a Resurgence (Carly Maga, CBC)

With an even hand" Brown V. Board at Fifty (Library of Congress)"

Stratford Public Library Suggested Reading List for Wedding Band

Booking Information: Tickets, Workshops, Chats and Tours

Student Matinées

You may book any available date, but selected student matinée performances for this show are at 2:00 p.m. on the following dates:

2:00 p.m.

  • Tuesday, June 20th
  • Tuesday, June 27th
  • Thursday, September 7th
  • Wednesday, September 13th
  • Thursday, September 14th
  • Thursday, September 21st
  • Thursday, September 28th 

Workshop & Chats

Pre or Post-Show Workshops and Post-Show Chats (virtual, onsite or at your school/centre) can be booked by calling the Box Office at 1.800.567.1600.








Tools for Teachers include Prologues, Study Guides and Stratford Shorts.       


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