Play inspired by the recent murder of Botham Jean by police officer Amber Guyger premieres at TCU


A promotional graphic for Theatre TCU’s 2021 production of For Bo: A Play Inspired by the Murder of Botham Jean by Officer Amber Guyger. Illustration by Brian Dickson.

For Bo: A Play Inspired by the Murder of Botham Jean by Officer Amber Guyger will premiere later this month as part of Theatre TCU’s spring season. Through a fictional narrative, the new original play explores the issues that led to Botham Jean’s death in 2018 at the hands of Dallas police officer Amber Guyger. Theatre TCU, The #ForBoInitiative and The Botham Jean Foundation will present performances virtually via online streaming April 22-25 and April 29-May 2.

For Bo, which was presented as a staged reading on campus last spring, is written by Theatre TCU faculty member Ayvaunn Penn. Penn was inspired to write For Bo while closely following media coverage of the aftermath of Jean’s death, including watching the murder trial of Amber Guyger unfold in real time. Last year’s staged reading garnered the attention of local media including KXAS/NBC 5 and KDFW/Fox 4 among others.

Following the April 29 performance, Penn will be joined by intercultural and interdisciplinary professionals as well as special guests Allison Jean and Allisa Findley, Jean’s mother and sister, in a virtual community panel to facilitate conversations of cross-cultural understanding. The #ForBoInitiative, founded by Penn, strives to promote the use of the arts as a catalyst for positive social change. The initiative provides arts organizations and institutions with guidance and tools to host their own productions or readings of For Bo paired with community discussions to eradicate racial bias, racial injustice and police brutality.

TCU’s production of For Bo is co-directed by Penn and senior theatre and writing double major Ashley Parks. Theatre TCU students provided designs and vocal talent that bring to life illustrations created by members of the TCU and other communities. Community illustrators include artists from Dallas-Fort Worth and beyond ranging from middle school to professional. Additional illustrations were created by students at Botham Jean’s alma mater Harding University in Arkansas, Fort Worth’s Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Austin College in Sherman, Texas, Pratt Institute in New York and more.

Notably, Penn’s For Bo was named a finalist in the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s 2020 National Playwrights Conference—the country’s premiere program for new play development—which has served as a launchpad for renowned dramatists such as Tony Award Winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton), Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize Winner August Wilson (FencesThe Piano Lesson) and Golden Globe Winner Regina Taylor (Crowns), among many others. Additionally, last year’s staged reading and community discussion of For Bo was highlighted in TCU’s 2020 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award presented by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

Admission to the For Bo virtual performances and community panel is free with advanced registration beginning Friday, April 16; a donation to The Botham Jean Foundation is suggested.