Sol & Paul: A One-Act Play

Mar 25, 2014 | Kristi Lynch

The Babka Theatre in the University of Dubuque’s Heritage Center will host the premier performance of the one-act play Sol & Paul on Thursday, April 3 at 7:30 p.m.  The play imagines a conversation that may have taken place between star athletes Sol Butler and Paul Robeson at the famed Penn Relays track meet in 1916.

Sol & Paul adds an intimate perspective on themes developed in the related exhibition “Racing Past the Color Line: Sol Butler and Paul Robeson in Collegiate Athletics” in Heritage Center’s Bisignano Art Gallery.  Throughout the play’s dialogue, the two African American men compare experiences at their predominantly white institutions – Dubuque German College (now the University of Dubuque) and Rutgers College - reflecting on the joys of college life and the indignities of segregation. Following the performance, a panel of community leaders and scholars will address issues raised by the play, exhibition, and audience members.

University of Dubuque students Ramon Riley (first-year, Fountain, CO), Mario-John Otchere (sophomore, Rutland, MA), and Tyler Robey (junior, East Dubuque, IL) star in the play.  “What I find most interesting about this role is that Sol was a real person, not a fictional character,” says Riley, who performs as Butler.  “I need to remember to live in the moment, and try my best to be Sol at that moment in time.”  Riley has starred in UD’s productions of The Forgiving and the Forgetting and Dinner à la Morte, Otchere in Flying West and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Robey in All in the Timing and Go Dog. Go.  Assistant Professor of History Brian Hallstoos, who wrote the play, notes how well Riley, Otchere, and Robey fit their roles.  “I have gotten to know Ramon, Mario, and Tyler in and beyond the classroom, and am thrilled to work with these talented young men. They have the skill and integrity to bring Butler and Robeson to life on stage.”

Audience members are encouraged to visit “Racing Past the Color Line” and to pick up a free exhibition catalog in the Bisignano Art Gallery prior to the presentation of Paul & Sol.  Public gallery hours are normally 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, when university classes are in session.  The gallery also will be open one hour prior to the play performance. For more information, please contact Brian Hallstoos at (563) 589-3855 or by email at

WHAT: A one-act play – Sol & Paul

WHEN: Thursday, April 13, 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Babka Theatre, Heritage Center
PRICE: Complimentary