Welcome to Emancipation Theater

Where Roleplay is Ritual and the Stage is our Sanctuary.


The Ballad of Bobby Trombone

In the Pocket: The Ballad of Bobby Trombone

Feb 9 - Feb 19, 2023

The Savoy Denver
2700 Arapahoe St.
Denver, Colorado 80205

Written by Jeff Campbell

Story Consultation/ Direction by Theatre Artibus

Music by Akil

A co-creation of Emancipation Theater Company and Theatre Artibus.

In the Pocket: The Ballad of Bobby Trombone imagines life at the historic Rossonian Hotel, located at the pinnacle of Five Points, Denver’s historic Black neighborhood in the 1950s. The former Rossonian Hotel was the beating heart of Five Points and one of the most famous jazz clubs in the West durring the Jazz era.

Three employees tell the story of its rich jazz history and how it earned its nickname “The Harlem of the West” in a comedic, fictionalized account of historic facts. ‘In the pocket’ is a jazz term to describe when a musician or band finds a groove. Garcia Lorca might have called it duende, the “'mysterious power which everyone senses and no philosopher explains.” In the play, Bobby Trombone, the Rossonian’s head concierge, explains to a young bellhop on his first day on the job, “We do it like jazz. That’s the pocket, the rhythm, keep in time, be on time, adapt and improvise, until it’s check out time... Bellhoppin’ is just like jazz.”

The characters in the story offer a glimpse into what it was like as a Black resident of Denver who lived, worked, struggled and thrived in Five Points in during the Jazz era. These characters also embody a larger symbology as the past and future of Denver’s Black community in relationship to its artistic identity over time.

The Cast

Jeff Campbell crop

Jeff Campbell (Bobby Trombone)

Founder & Executive Director of Emancipation. He has been part of Denver's creative community for over two decades as a pioneering Hip Hop and spoken word artist. In 2015, he was named one of Westword's 100 Colorado Creatives. He is also the writer of "Who Killed Jigaboo Jones?," a one-man mockumentary on the Hip Hop Industrial Complex", "Honorable Disorder", the story of an Iraq war veteran's journey reintegrating into civilian life after deployment, and was a co-creator of "RECIPE", a collaboration with Artibus Theatre and Grapefruit Lab about Food and history in Five Points, Denver.

Shane Franklin

Shane Franklin (Simon Moody)

Shane "SF1" Franklin is a drummer, music producer, dancer, actor and national Grammy considered recording artist who began his career in performance. Born in Denver, Shane started as a member of the drama group and youth choirs in church. A graduate of Denver School of the Arts, he continued his education at Berklee College of Music. He has been in commercials, music videos and productions such as Cleo Parker Robinson's "Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum," the Western debut of Tony Award winning Broadway play "Passing Strange," "Colorado Opera's "Porgy and Bess," Cesar Alvarez and the Lisps "Futurity," Rinne Groff's "The Ruby Sunrise," and portrays DJ in the motion picture Alien Domicile II: Lot 24" to name a few. Shane plans to continue to inspire and touch the world with his music, acting and performance ability as a whole.

Danette Hollowell

Danette Hollowell (Voilet Middleton)

Vashti is a vocalist, songwriter, classically trained dancer & performance artist. After a chance encounter with an opportunity to take part in a jazz program at UCD, her professional career began to blossom. For the past 18 years Hollowell has brought an edge, dynamism and beautiful charisma to the Denver music scene. Danette is incredible as the front woman of a band but it’s her solo vocals, showmanship and creative stamina that has carried her though the years to international platforms and guided her through an ever evolving music industry. Like many great musicians and songwriters, the creative process for Danette begins long before the studio. She uses experiences and her unique perspective to weave stories with classic sentiment and symbolic concepts. More than a jazz singer, incorporating R&B, Soul, Rock & movement she is the total package. She’s beautiful & mysterious. Whether covers or originals on stage there’s nothing this phenom can’t do and even if there was, you’d love to see her try.

Wesley Watkins

Wesley Watkins (Quentin Myles)

A trumpet player, composer, and band leader for 12+ years, Watkins plays a slew of other instruments as well. Roots come from gospel, jazz, and R&B with a sprinkle of folk music from around the world.You may have seen Wes playing around the world with groups like Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, Izcalli, Wheelchair Sports Camp, Air Dubai, Other Black, and many more.


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Our name was inspired by a quote from Marcus Garvey; “We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, for though others may free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind”




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