Recommended for grades 8 and up.

Backstory invites students to step back in time for a classroom experience with a featured historical character portrayed by a Syracuse Stage artist-in-residence.

The Backstory Program is an interactive, live, creative dive into compelling historical figures' stories for middle and high school students. Actors visit schools and other venues to bring these stories to life. Each performance includes a talkback with the actor and our helpful study guide for further classroom exploration. Pre- or post-show sessions with our talented teaching artists can also be arranged.

Through December 30, 2022, the Backstory Program is a 50-minute streaming package that includes the performance and a comprehensive study guide. Enthrall your students with an engaging one man show, fully produced for a virtual medium that features stunning projections and a captivating story. Talkbacks with the director and playwright can be scheduled at no additional charge.

VIDEO TRAILER: Citizen James, or The Young Man Without a Country


Backstory 2021: Citizen James, or The Young Man Without a Country

Written by Kyle Bass | Directed by Joann Yarrow

Available for streaming through December 31, 2022

Meet a 24-year-old James Baldwin at LaGuardia Airport. Young James is an unknown aspiring “Negro” writer whose first novel has yet to be published. He awaits his flight, having just left his family with the news of his decision to flee America for refuge in Paris. He speaks no French. He has a one-way ticket and $40 in his pocket.

Witness James Baldwin as he decides he must do something to save himself from the violent reality of racists America in 1948, a decision that sets him on the path to becoming a brilliant, powerful, and prophetic voice of the Civil Rights era and beyond. More than a one-man show, Citizen James is a bridge that connects the past to our now.

Please note, the performance briefly discusses mature topics like police violence, suicide, sexual identity, and contains racially charged language.

Study Guide

Backstory: Citizen James, or The Young Man Without a CountryPrintable PDF

The Details

24 hour access - $250
48 hour access - $500
1 week access - $750
BOCES funding eligible. Some school scholarships available. 

All Streaming prices are for K - 12 Public Schools. For other organizations, prices can be discussed.

For questions or to book a virtual performance, please contact:

Theorri London, Community Engagement and Education Coordinator

Generous support from:



Past Shows