John Ball's In The Heat of the Night

by  Matt Pelfrey, John Ball

Full Length Play, Drama  /  8m, 2f

"A tight and timely thriller!" –

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John Ball's In The Heat of the Night

by  Matt Pelfrey John Ball

License Estimator

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    8m, 2f
  • Duration


    90 minutes
  • SubGenre


    Adaptations (Literature), Mystery/Thriller, Period, Docudrama/Historic
  • Accolades


    Not Applicable
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult
    • Senior
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info

Acclaimed playwright Matt Pelfrey's adaptation of John Ball's In the Heat of the Night based on the award-winning book that inspired the Oscar-winning film and the Emmy-winning television series.

It's 1962. A hot August night lies heavy over the small town of Argo, Alabama. A dead white man is discovered and the local police arrest a black stranger named Virgil Tibbs. The police discover that their prime suspect is in fact a homicide detective from California. As it happens, Tibbs becomes the racially-tense community's single hope in solving a brutal murder that is turning up no witnesses, no motives, and no clues.
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"A tight and timely thriller! – TheaterMania, Read More

"It's eminently stageworthy...a tense and exciting story that follows the book's basic plot but offers viewers a distinctly new and different In the Heat of the Night" – CurtainUp, Read More

"The play is taut and startlingly resonant, even as it deals with events taking place nearly 50 years ago. Pelfrey's work is economical and uncompromising...suspenseful, thrilling, and stunningly theatrical." –, Read More 


Performing Groups

  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Reader's Theatre
  • Large Stage
  • Church / Religious Groups


  • Artboard 3 Gun Shots
  • Caution Strong Language Strong Language
  • Caution Mild Adult Mild Adult Themes

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $90 per performance



  • Time Period: Contemporary, 1960s
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Setting: Alabama, 1962
  • Additional Features: Not Applicable
  • Features / Contains: Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes, Period Costumes


  • Musical Style: N/A (Not a musical)
  • Vocal Demands: N/A (Not a musical)
  • Chorus Size: N/A (Not a musical)


8m, 2f
ACTOR #1 - Chief Gillespie
ACTOR #2 - Virgil Tibbs
ACTOR #3 - Sam Wood
ACTOR #4 - Pete/Man In Shadows/Klansman 1
ACTOR #5 - Harvey Oberst/Purdy/Klansman
ACTOR #6 - Charles Tatum/Endicott/Al Jennings
ACTOR #7 - Coroner/Mayor Schubert/Klans
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Cast Attributes

  • Ensemble cast
  • Multicultural casting
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)



Matt Pelfrey

Matt Pelfrey is the resident playwright at Furious Theatre. His plays include An Impending Rupture of the Belly, Cockroach Nation, Terminus Americana, Honkies with Attitude, Gore Hounds, Drive Angry, FrEAk StORm, Jerry Springer is G ...

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John Ball

The son of scientist, John Ball was born in Schenectady, New York, grew up in Milwaukee, and attended Caroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He subsequently worked as a science staff writer for Fortune, a feature writer for the Brooklyn Eagle, a daily columnist on the New York World-Telegram & Sun, and a broadcaster f ...

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John Ball's In the Heat of the Night was first produced by Godlight Theatre Company at 59E59 Theaters March 19-April 25, 2010. The production was directed by Joe Tantalo, with production design by Maruti Evans, sound design by Elizabeth Rhodes, costume design by Virginia Monte, choreography by Hachi Yu, and fight choreography by Rick Sordelet. The production stage managers were Christina Hurtado, Meredith Brown, and Derek Shore.

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