"Four Women and an Artist"
Total Run Time: 45-60mins
**There will be no audience; this will be pre-recorded to be streamed virtually.**
Why is this project so unique?
In 1966, Nina Simone released a song called “Four Women.” It was both a civil rights protest and a feminist anthem.
I was alluding to Ms. Simone’s piece when Four Women and an Artist was named as such. However, instead of portraying the women as the four archetypes described in the song, my goal is to shine a light on how heavy the black community is feeling with daily reports of new police brutality against our black men. I chose to do this by having four women of a certain age surround a young, black man (our visual artist) -as he could easily be anyone of their son, brother, nephew, or any other male family member. This thought is then compounded by the image of a silhouetted artist, a faceless black man, creating his emotional response and his reality to both what’s going on around him on stage as well as what’s going on around him in the world. The four women each have a prepared piece (either song or prose) that span from 1926 until now referencing timely topics such as racial discrimination and inequalities.
Summary of Pieces:
“Tell Me Why” - Dianna Wright
Tell Me Why is a spoken word piece that begs the question “why?” Ms. Wright asks what it is about black people that warrants these continuous murders. She wonders if it has to do with our African features and legacy, and wonders why we are not allowed to carry out simple day-to-day activities such as jogging. She ends by repeating the line “Tell Me Why.”
“I, Too (Sing America)” - Anwei Kilgore
I, Too is a 1926 poem by the American poet Langston Hughes that focuses on African American identity within the predominantly white culture of the United States. It succinctly frames the history of oppression of black people by means of slavery, denial of rights and inequality. The last line of the poem reads “I, too, am America.” Ms. Kilgore will be doing an opera-style adaptation of the poem.
“A Letter to Emma Davis” - V Efua Prince
Ms. Prince wrote a letter in 2020 in reply to a letter written by a woman, Emma Davis, in 1938. In Ms. Prince’s reply, she references events such as the New Deal, the Dred Scott case, and the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. But ultimately, Ms. Prince is telling Ms. Davis and the women of that generation that she is looking to them in these troubling times, remembering their resilience and quiet persistence during their troubling times.
Ms. Prince will only be doing an excerpt; however, the full letter is available here: https://openingparagraph.info/letter-to-emma-davis/
“Stand Up” - J. Regina Blackwell
Stand Up was a 2019 song written and recorded by Cynthia Erivo. The song was featured on the 2019 film “Harriet” and it is sung from Harriet Tubman’s perspective. The chorus reads:
“That's when I'm gonna stand up
Take my people with me
Together we are going
To a brand new home
Far across the river
Can you hear freedom calling?
Calling me to answer
Gonna keep on keepin' on”