The Gammage Project

Show Information

Written by:

Attilio Favorini

Directed by:

Mark Clayton Southers


Thursday, February 9, 2012 to Sunday, February 19, 2012

Show Times:

Friday-Saturday at 8:00 PM
Sunday matinee at 1:00 PM


Henry Heymann Theatre (February)
August Wilson Center (March)

On Oct. 12, 1995, Johnny Gammage, cousin of former Pittsburgh Steeler Ray Seals, was stopped by a Brentwood, Pa., police officer. Seven minutes later, Gammage was dead. This original docudrama goes beyond issues of Black and White to expose the failures of public policy that still trouble the city of Pittsburgh.

Gammage Timeline

October 12, 1995: Jonny Gammage, 31, a black businessman and cousin of then-Steelers lineman Ray Seals, is apprehended by five white police officers at a traffic stop. During a seven-minute fight with the above officers, Gammage dies. An autopsy determines that he suffocated after pressure was applied to his neck and chest.

November 3, 1995: After a three-day open inquest, a coroner’s jury recommends that homicide charges be filed against Brentwood Lt. Milton Mulholland, Baldwin Borough Patrolman Michael G. Albert, Brentwood Patrolman John Vojtas and Sgt. Keith Henderson and Patrolman Shawn Patterson, both of the Whitehall force. Coroner’s jury comprised of two black women, a black man, two white men and a white woman.

November 27, 1995: District Attorney Bob Colville announces he will file charges against only Mulholland, Albert and Vojtas. No charges are filed against Henderson or Patterson. Vojtas to be tried separately from Mulholland and Albert.

November 13, 1996: An all-white jury finds Vojtas not guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

July 22, 1998: After two mistrials, Judge Joseph F. McCloskey dismissed the charges against Mulholland and Albert.

February 19, 1999: U.S. Justice Department said it would not file civil rights charges in the death of Gammage because it couldn’t prove that the five suburban officers had used unreasonable force to subdue him.

March 22, 1999:  In Syracuse, a group of clergy and community leaders held a march protesting the way the case was handled in Pennsylvania and calling for the US Justice Department to reopen the investigation.


From the beginning, the incident and its legal aftermath have weighed heavily on Attilio “Buck” Favorini, Pitt theatre arts professor and playwright. Now, 16 years later — the last two years dedicated to writing a play about the Gammage incident — Favorini is presenting the world premiere of “The Gammage Project,” a docudrama that debuts Feb. 9 with a preview at the Henry Heymann Theatre in the Stephen Foster Memorial.
Mark Clayton Southers has been working on "The Gammage Project" for two years and directing the play through rehearsals as it readies for a Thursday opening. There was a moment when he let his actors do some freestyle acting, just to have a little fun, before getting back to the play.
Gammage's haunting last words to an officer at the scene -- "Keith, Keith, I'm 31. I'm only 31." -- will echo across Oakland's Henry Heymann Theatre and the August Wilson Center, Downtown. Beginning Feb. 9, the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company and the Pittsburgh Repertory Theatre will stage "The Gammage Project," a dramatization of his death and the legal cases against three suburban officers that rippled from it.
One was a young businessman, the other an honors high school student. Their paths never crossed, but Jonny Gammage and Jordan Miles are inextricably linked as black men who were injured, one fatally, while being subdued by white police officers.