The Niceties

Full-Length Play, Drama  /  2w

What begins as a polite clash in perspectives explodes into an urgent debate about race, history and power.

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
  • Duration
    105 Minutes
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    Adult, Teen (Age 14 - 18)


Zoe, a Black student at a liberal arts college, is called into her white professor’s office to discuss her paper about slavery’s effect on the American Revolution. What begins as a polite clash in perspectives explodes into an urgent debate about race, history and power.
The world premiere of The Niceties was co-produced during the 2018-2019 season by the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston, Massachusetts; Manhattan Theatre Club in New York, New York; and McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, New Jersey. Directed by Kimberly Senior, the productions featured Lisa Banes and Jordan Boatman.
JANINE BOSKO – Female, white, early sixties. A college professor.
ZOE REED – Female, Black, twenty. A college student.
  • Time Period Contemporary, Present Day
  • Setting An elite university in the Northeast. March 2016.
  • Features Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes
  • Additional Features No intermission
  • Duration 105 Minutes


“A barnburner of a play.” – The Washington Post

“Burgess generates a verbal whirlwind with a words-per-minute velocity that rivals Aaron Sorkin.” – The Boston Globe

“An articulate expression of #blacklivesmatter anger as well as a Millennial rebel yell.” – The Arts Fuse

“A barnburner of a play… One of the best plays I’ve seen about who gets to tell the story of America, and how.” – The Washington Post


From the Desk of Licensing: Collegiate Edition Vol. 2
by Becca Schlossberg
September 6, 2019

Scene Study and Classroom Reading: Plays for Colleges and Universities
by Becca Schlossberg
August 23, 2019


  • Huntington Theatre: The Niceties  youtube thumbnail

    Huntington Theatre: The Niceties

  • Portland Stage: The Niceties  youtube thumbnail

    Portland Stage: The Niceties

Licensing & Materials

  • Minimum Fee: £55 per performance plus VAT when applicable.


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Eleanor Burgess

Eleanor Burgess’ plays include The Niceties, Wife of a Salesman, Start Down, Chill, Sparks Fly Upward and Galilee, 34. Her work has been produced at theaters across the United States, including Manhattan Theatre Club, South Coast Rep, Geffen Playhouse, McCarter Theatre Center ...
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