“The Two Lives of Napoleon Beazley” is a new play by John Fleming that explores the true story of a 17-year-old African-American defendant who was sentenced to death for a carjacking and murder in Texas. The victim was the father of a federal judge. Using a variety of factual resources, including court transcripts and media accounts, the play examines race and the criminal justice system before the Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that the death penalty for juveniles violates the Constitution. Beazley was one of the last juvenile offenders executed in the U.S.
The Austin Chronicle writes that “The Two Lives of Napoleon Beazley” is:
The most important play to see in Texas right now.... Voicing all the opposing viewpoints on the issues of racism, judicial nepotism, ageism, and capital punishment, [this play] presents the story dramatically with heartbreaking scenes that are not at all contrived or insincere. Fleming’s well-knit play unfolds effortlessly before us, evoking pathos for injustice.