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Putting the Community Onstage

Flower Drum Song was an unprecedented opportunity for Park Square Theatre to put a community of 17 Asian American theatre artists on our stage. If you were in the house for the closing performance, then you had the rare chance to see two additional community members take a turn on the stage during the Grant Avenue California USA musical number. John Harris made his Park Square “debut” as a camera wielding tourist and Jim Lewis made his second on stage appearance as a fellow tourist in San Francisco’s Chinatown. (Jim’s “debut” was two years ago in a performance Sherlock Holmes and The Ice Palace Murders).

Flower Drum Song Cast

The Flower Drum Song Cast

So how did these two get to join the company for a performance?

John Harris (left) and Jim Lewis with Sherwin Resurrecion at the farewell performance

At our April gala last year, we offered the chance for a walk on role (complete with rehearsal and costume fitting), 10 tickets for your fan club, $150 toward your own “cast party” at the St. Paul Grill, and photos with the company for your memory book or Facebook Timeline. John, a longtime donor and subscriber and Jim, an enthusiastic member of our Mystery Writers Producers’ Club of donors, were locked in a bidding war, so we sold it twice, adding $3,500 to our fund to subsidize student matinee tickets.

It was wonderful to hear “Team John” and “Team Jim” cheer for their family actor before the show started and at the curtain call.

As I “wrangled” them backstage before making our way to the stage for their big moment, I watched them observe the cast prepping and during the first act – doing vocal exercises in the dressing room in between songs, constant stretching, taking part in the closing day potluck still on the long table, and the ensemble running back and forth to change into their endless costumes. Finding somewhere to stand backstage amid the constant flow of traffic, the props and costumes waiting for quick offstage changes was a delightful challenge!

Needless to say, the Flower Drum Song cast was amazingly warm and welcoming to the “two old white guys” along for the time of their lives. Pogi Sumangil took responsibility for getting them through the curtain in time to the music and Megan Kreidler was their lead through the choreography to get them to their marks. “Just follow me,” she kept smiling!

Once off on the other side of the stage (dodging ladders and quick entrances in the tight squeeze we have next to the rope and pulley rigging system), they looked for me to guide them through the Hamm Building to their seats to enjoy the rest of the show. They were fêted at intermission with a private champagne toast with their “teams” of fans and the whole cast indicated them in their special spotlight for their final bow.

If you (yes you) would like to make your Park Square debut next season, there are two options: bring your headshot and resume to our general auditions over the next two weekends, or join us on April 24 for our Havana Nights Gala where we’ll once again auction off the chance of a lifetime to appear in one of next season’s performances. We’re “sweetening the deal” this year by adding the chance to be at the designer’s presentation and first read through of “your” show with the cast so you can meet them ahead of time. You’ll also get to join us for the “designer’s run through” in the rehearsal hall to see who the show is coming together before it heads over to the stage.

So get your bidding budget set. There’s nothing like some gentle “on the job training” to get a taste of the actor’s life and to see a production from literally all sides!


Michael-jon Pease C. Michael-jon Pease is Executive Director of Park Square Theatre

Sitting in the Dark with Students

It happened again the other day. As an usher, I got to watch Nina Simone: Four Women with predominantly students of color in the Boss Stage, and any squirming in the seats stopped once they figured out that this play is special. The characters on stage talk about racism, colorism, feminism and the toll but also strength of facing all the -isms on a daily basis in the frank way that’s not permitted in polite society. Finally, someone is openly articulating aspects of the truth of their daily experiences, and they can relate. They lean forward to watch and listen, fully engaged.

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It’s not always this way when I watch a play with students. One of my very first experiences as an usher was to witness rows of predominantly white students from a suburban school laugh throughout an intense scene of the teenage Esperanza in anguish from having been assaulted in The House on Mango Street. This seemed not to be nervous, but mocking, laughter. That was frightening to behold for me and, from what I could tell by their faces, the cast as well. This was the same school group from whence a student addressed me as, “Hey, Hiroshima!” to get my attention to make a request (which I did not grant).

There are also times when students seem to talk a lot during a play. More often than not, such a group may be first-timers to live theatre, only having watched shows on television. They are, thus, used to being able to openly comment as a performance unfolds. But there are also first-time theatre-going groups that are so captivated by the play’s reality that they will, for instance, as a group of Hmong students did last season, all turn their heads to look when Anne, in The Diary of Anne Frank, points beyond their heads at an imaginary sky. Regardless of how first-timers react, we feel privileged that they’ve chosen Park Square to be their first exposure to live theatre.

Coming to a performance at Park Square Theatre is an educational experience for school groups, not only in the academic sense but also in the life-learning sense.  They come face to face with social issues but also with themselves–who they are and who they want to become. The latter may involve gaining personal perspective on respectful engagement or even the discovery of a new passion to pursue.

Sitting in the dark with students in a theatre is, more often than not, a rewarding experience. You know that the young audience member who comes out may not be the same person who’d gone in. As an usher, it makes me lean forward and pay attention, fully engaged.

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Stick to Your Day Job

Actor Ashton Kutcher recently testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding ending modern slavery & human trafficking, an issue about which he is clearly very passionate. In his opening remarks, he is quoted as saying:

This is about the time when I start talking about politics that the internet trolls tell me to  “stick to my day job.” So I’d like to talk about my day job. My day job is as the Chairman and the co-founder of Thorn. We build software to fight human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children. That’s our core mission. My other day job is that of the father of two, a 2-month-old and a 2-year-old. And it is part of that job that I take very seriously, I believe it is my effort to defend their right to pursue happiness and to ensure a society and government that defends it as well.

For whatever reason, those who reach a certain level of celebrity are often criticized for standing up for their beliefs. The public, acting as organ grinders, simply want their celebrities to dance for them. Unfortunately for the faceless masses, no matter how famous someone may be, their fame does not magically transform them into a monolith. Humans are complicated creatures, no matter what level of celebrity they reach, and as humans with 5 senses and critical thinking skills, they are capable of recognizing injustice when they see it.

b165a74366ee734abd789180099e129dThat is why figures like Nina Simone are so integral to our experience in a pluralistic, democratic society. Her name is easily added to a long list of people who could have simply stuck to their day jobs, but chose not to. Among those are Muhammad Ali, the Dixie Chicks, Beyonce, Meryl Streep, Chris Kluwe, Billie Jean King, Colin Kaepernick, Jesse Williams, and Emma Watson, among others. If any of these figures had kept their mouths shut and stuck to the jobs that made them famous, we’d be worse off.

Whether or not we, as audience members, agree with our friendly neighborhood celebrity is another story altogether. But we can take a note from Oscar Wilde, who reminds us that it’s not about us: “The best art is about individualism, free self-expression, and realizing a unique, imaginative perspective. A true artist takes no notice whatever of the public. The public are to him non-existent.” Speaking up and speaking out are woven into the job descriptions of any artist worth their salt; our job is to express ourselves, so how can we possibly be expected to do that without inspiration, without passion?

originalThe truth of the matter is that in our society no one deserves to be silenced. The only way our democracy works is by making sure our elected officials speak to the issues about which we are passionate, and that requires us all to use our voices. If every time we acknowledged an injustice in the world we were met with, “What does this matter to you? You’re just an accountant/teacher/nurse…” would we be so quick to shut our mouths and stick to our day jobs? If we wouldn’t want that for ourselves, why would we force that onto others?

The fact that celebrities have a certain degree of influence gives them both a platform and a responsibility upon which to speak for those who would not otherwise be heard. They can use their celebrity as a megaphone to help raise awareness for others who may not have the same privileges.

If we had the ability to improve the lives of others, wouldn’t we do it?

What’s Missing?

In an interview with Park Square Theatre, feature writer Matt DiCintio asked Christina Ham, the playwright of Nina Simone: Four Women, “Many audience members, especially younger generations, may not be aware of the role musicians like Simone played in the Civil Rights Movement. Why do you feel it’s important that we don’t forget them?”

Regina Marie Williams as Nina Simone (Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma)

Regina Marie Williams as Nina Simone
(Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma)

As part of her reply, Christina stated, “Until 1970, Ms. Simone’s music was such a substantial part of the movement, but after this she was basically pushed into relative obscurity. Books on the Civil Rights Movement don’t even index her or discuss how critical she was to the movement.”

In conversations with audience members who had seen Nina Simone for the first time either last or this season, I often found some to have come expecting lighter fare–namely, a replica of a nightclub act of favorite standards. Instead, they were surprised by the intensity of a production that digs deep into themes of racism, colorism, feminism and activism. The play ultimately leaves a strong impression and makes a powerful impact on its audiences by transcending the standard narratives and perspectives of mainstream history to create a more nuanced and complete truth.

In her interview with DiCintio, Christina also remarked how “this play shines a light on the black women who were and were not musicians during this movement who were often marginalized and forced into the background–even though we were the backbone of the movement.”

How would we see each other differently if credit were more often given where credit was due? For instance, what if the contributions of these and other women in black history had been made prominent? How would society evolve if more points of view do not get submerged, lost, hidden or erased?

This year alone, we have most starkly needed to rethink history in light of the revelation that brilliant black women working at NASA were also instrumental in launching astronaut John Glenn into space. The old narrative of the Space Race may have stayed intact if not for authors Margot Lee Shetterly, who wrote Hidden Figures, and Duchess Harris and Sue Bradford Edwards, who wrote Hidden Human Computers: The Black Women of NASA.

Revealing obscured or missing history has the power to create change. It changes how we see each other and how we see ourselves. It can prevent entrenchment in singular points of view and narrow ways of thinking or even cause a change of heart.

One thing is for certain. After seeing Nina Simone, you won’t come out thinking about the Civil Rights Movement in quite the same way as before.

 

Nina Simone: Four Women on the Boss Thrust Stage until March 5

 

Mississippi *@!!?*@!

by Vincent Hannam

One of the things I love most about writing and blogging (and consequently theatre as a whole) is the chance to broaden my education on all kinds of subjects that I had never either heard about or took the time to research. One of those subjects is Nina Simone as an artist and civil rights activist and her song “Mississippi Goddam” which, I’ll admit, I’d never heard until Park Square Theatre’s Nina Simone: Four Women. I began thinking about how a song from fifty-three years ago has succeeded so much in the face of so much turmoil. When I was reading into that signature song I saw this picture of the original album sleeve with the latter word bleeped out. Now that kind of title would bristle more than a few feathers today, so I can imagine the world of 1964 just losing its mind – probably more so in certain parts of the country than others, but lost minds nonetheless.

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That year Simone said to hell with it and released a song that was a direct attack on the social order of the South, where blacks were treated as a second-class citizens at best and out right murdered at worst. It was her response to a time in the early ’60s when the Civil Rights Movement was at an apex with the murder of Medgar Evers and the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing in 1963. For Simone, the song was her own turning point: she had had enough with the system and decided that this song and getting into the fight for racial equality was more important than pleasing her mostly white fans. Go ahead and listen to the song and really hear not just the lyrics, but the passion and cry for justice in her voice.

While the song became an anthem of the era, it was banned in several southern states who were able to use the profanity in the title as their excuse for not airing it. I have a hard time believing that even if the song was called, “Mississippi the Beautiful”, it would have found any widespread air play.

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It’s a shame because the people who needed to hear it the most were the ones unwilling or unable to do so. If there is any solace in this history it’s that the song has quite clearly lived on while segregation is now a thing of the past. I think this is a valuable lesson to anyone who tries to clamp down on expression and ideas, no matter how controversial. That you can’t silence a voice forever – it will always find a crack in the wall to seep it’s way through, getting to people and spreading slowly but surely. Nina Simone was that voice and while she had the fame to back her up, she has inspired countless others with zero notoriety to make their voices heard no matter what the censors might do to silence them.

Note: Nina Simone: Four Women has been extended through Sunday, March 5.

A Story in Numbers

Regina Marie Williams, Jamila Anderson and Aimee K. Bryant in Nina Simone: Four Women (Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma)

Regina Marie Williams, Jamila Anderson and Aimee K. Bryant in Nina Simone: Four Women
(Photo by Michael Hanisch)

In Park Square Theatre’s Nina Simone: Four Women, which is set inside the heavily damaged 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, the presence of the four girls killed in the bombing is clearly felt, a powerful force that propels the four women together to tell their own stories. A fifth girl was with the four girls when the dynamite exploded, but she managed to survive the attack, though not without grave injuries. In Nina Simone, the tale of the four women are told through songs. The story of the girls, in contrast, can be told in stark numbers. Both accounts inform our nation’s history–its past, present and movement into the future.

Survivor Sarah Collins, 12 years old

Survivor Sarah Collins, 12 years old

1 Girl survived the bombing: Sarah Collins

3 Months in the hospital for Sarah Collins, who lost her right eye in the bombing

Top l to r: Adie Mae Collins (14) and Denise McNair (11) Bottom l to r: Carole Robertson (14) and Cynthia Wesley (14)

Top l to r: Adie Mae Collins (14) and Denise McNair (11)
Bottom l to r: Carole Robertson (14) and Cynthia Wesley (14)

4 Girls killed in the bombing: Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins and Denise McNair

4 Klansmen suspected in the bombing: Robert Chambliss, Bobby Frank Cherry, Herman Cash and Thomas E. Blanton, Jr.

6 Month jail sentence for Robert Chambliss and cleared of the murder charge

9 Month of the bombing: September

11 Years Old: Denise McNair

12 Years Old: Sarah Collins

14 Years Old: Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Addie Mae Collins

14 Years before Robert Chambliss was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment (1977) after Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley reopened the bombing case

15 Day of the bombing in September at 10:22 am; parishioners were listening to Reverend Arthur Price’s sermon, “A Love That Forgives”

15 Sticks of dynamite (from 122 sticks purchased by Robert Chambliss) planted in the church basement

16th Street Church bombing

16th Street Church bombing

16 th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, was bombed in 1963

20 Approximate other members of the congregation injured in the bombing

31 Years after the bombing when Herman Cash dies without conviction (1994)

33 Years after the bombing when the Matthews-Murkland Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, is set on fire as part of an 18-month stretch of arson directed at southern black churches (1996)

37 Years before Thomas E. Blanton, Jr. is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment (2000)

39 Years before Bobby Frank Cherry is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment (2002)

45 Years after the bombing when three white men in Springfield, Massachusetts, set ablaze the Macedonia Church of God in Christ hours after Obama’s inauguration (2008)

50 Years after the bombing when the five girls were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the highest civilian honors in America; survivor Sarah Collins Rudolph initially declined to attend the ceremony (2013)

52 Years after the bombing when 21-year-old white supremist Dylan Roof kills 9 and injures 3 at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina (2015)

63 Year of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama

64 Year that Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act

68 Year that FBI chairman J. Edgar Hoover closed the bombing investigation without prosecutions nor filing charges

100 Dollars fine for Robert Chambliss in addition to the initial short 6-month jail sentence (until he was finally convicted in 1977)

200 Church members attending Sunday school classes when the dynamite went off at the 16th Street Baptist Church

8000 Approximate number of mourners that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed at a funeral for three of the girls (one girl’s family held a private funeral)

 

Peace, Love and Understanding

After the performance of Flower Drum Song at Park Square Theatre on Thursday, February 16, 10 pm, there will be a Q&A about The Ghostlight Project, an ongoing commitment by theatre institutions and artists throughout the nation to work for social justice and equity.

Artists are bright lights in our communities (artwork by Rachel Awes - www.rachelawes.com) Photo by T. T. Cheng

Artists are bright lights in our communities
(artwork by Rachel Awes – www.rachelawes.com)
Photo by T. T. Cheng

Randy Reyes, the Artistic Director of Mu Performing Arts, is part of the national steering committee of the project, which declares our theatres as “brave spaces where all are welcome to be who they are and engage in debate and dissent–and leave inspired to take action.” In January, Park Square Theatre hosted one of several local gatherings to launch this nationwide initiative, making a strong pledge to be a light of diversity, inclusion and equity. As a symbol of welcome, ghostlights in Park Square’s outer vestibule and in the Boss lobby were turned on and will remain on.

The ritual of illuminating a theatre through the night with a ghostlight has a long tradition. As the single light in an otherwise darkened space, it serves as a source of safety. As a national, collective action, the Ghostlight Project aims to, in Reyes’ words, “create light for those who need it most and pledge ourselves to work that honors all and celebrates the unconquerable human spirit.”

The Ghostlight Project Post-Show Q&A — Thursday, February 16, 10 pm

Park Square Theatre’s Proscenium Stage

ALL ARE WELCOME TO PARTICIPATE

 

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Mei-Li, Mao, and Mu

The prologue of Flower Drum Song chronicles a Mei-Li’s’s journey escaping from political oppression in China for the “Land of the Free” in America. It would be easy to oversimplify what you’re seeing as “Life was hard in the old country, so she jumps on a boat headed for the US,” but the actual historical context to Flower Drum Song sheds light on Mei-Li’s journey. For those of you out there who need a refresher on their Modern Chinese History, here you go:

When Mei-Li arrives in San Francisco’s Chinatown, the Chinese Cultural Revolution is in full swing. Those who were (un)lucky enough to survive Mao ZeDong’s Great Leap Forward, which lead to the Great Chinese Famine (1959-1961) were subject to political persecution during the Cultural Revolution.
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Mao believed that anyone he perceived to stand against him and his policies (such as Mei-Li’s father, along with other teachers and artists) were “Counter-Revolutionaries” and therefore enemies of the state. He labeled upper class intellectuals from large cities “revisionists” and insisted they be removed by violent class struggle. Red Guards, youth groups loyal to Mao, sprang up to enact his communist ideology, guided by Mao’s Little Red Book published in 1966. The Red Guards attacked and killed opponents of Mao’s regime, and were charged with destroying the Four Olds: Old customs, old culture, old habits, and old ideas. This included desecrating monuments of cultural significance, like Confucius’ tomb.

Anything traditional (such as Chinese Opera and other art) was to be purged. Imprisonment was arbitrary, torture was rampant, as was public humiliation & the seizure of property, and those in the cities were forcibly displaced to work in the countryside, all in the name of “re-education.”

197a9ca1282663b04c2dfa9be7064f35On the other side of the Pacific, Chinese Americans had been facing their own struggles. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prohibited the immigration of Chinese laborers to the US. Chinese Exclusion was the first of only 3 times in history when people of a specific country were banned from immigrating to the US (In case you’re wondering, the other two are Iran in 1980 during the hostage crisis, and the Executive Order other day). This led to widespread discrimination against Chinese and Chinese Americans.

Even though the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943, after China allied with the US during WWII, a national quota of only 105 immigrants from China were allowed each year until the Hart Celler Act abolished the national quota system in 1965.

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At times throughout Flower Drum Song, we see and hear from Chinese refugees. We hear about their hardships back in China as well as here in America. This is what they are fleeing from, and fleeing to. They leave a life of struggle only to be met with a different struggle when they arrive on America’s shores. But, like the lotus blossom, which is often surrounded by mud, they grow strong and tall, and the mud at their roots help fuel the ability to rise above it and flourish.

Jamil Jude, Artist Plus

Since December 2015, Jamil Jude has served as Park Square Theatre’s Artistic Programming Associate. As such, he is mentored by Artistic Director Richard Cook through the Leadership U[niversity] – One-on-One Program to foster the professional development of early-career, rising leaders of theatre. Jamil was only one of six exceptionally talented applicants awarded such a mentorship by Theatre Communications Group, the national organization formed to strengthen, nurture and promote professional nonprofit American theatre.

Jamil Jude with Alix Kendall on The BUZZ - Fox 9 to promote Nina Simone: Four Women at Park Square Theatre until March 5 (photo by Connie Shaver)

Jamil Jude with Alix Kendall on The BUZZ – Fox 9 to promote Nina Simone: Four Women at Park Square Theatre through March 5th
(photo by Connie Shaver)

While Jamil may be most visible to our audiences as the facilitator for post-show discussions, such as the upcoming Sunday, February 19, Musings for Nina Simone: Four Women or most recently as a promoter of Nina on Fox 9 with Alix Kendall, his work at Park Square, Jamil explained, “is really focused on advancing our broader inclusivity goals.”

“Richard began the work by expanding Park Square’s repertoire–the stories we tell and the artists who tell them,” Jamil elaborated. “I’ve been lucky enough to assist in that effort, retooling our process of identifying plays and artists, introducing new systems meant to streamline our production process and being another set of artistic eyes as plays move towards the stage. It’s amazing to witness a theatre like Park Square in this part of its growth.”

Over 40 years later, Park Square Theatre remains a work in progress, an organization in dynamic change to, as Jamil describes, “develop a deeper understanding of its place in the community and how to respond to the needs, wants and aesthetic desires of said community. To play a small part in that is a humbling experience.”

Jamil Jude, "Artist Plus" (photo by Farrington Llewellyn)

Jamil Jude, “Artist Plus”
(photo by Farrington Llewellyn)

Work in progress is also an apt description for Jamil Jude himself. He, too, continually  examines his purpose and relevance as an artist. Self-defined as an “Artist Plus,” he works as a freelance director, producer, playwright, dramaturg, speaker or whatever role needed to pursue an artistic vision. That vision is, more often than not, in service to social justice. He has, in fact, more specifically described himself as a “social justice based art maker dedicated to building communities, bringing new communities to the arts and to using the arts as a means to eliminate artificial barriers that society imposes.”

Besides Park Square Theatre, Jamil has been involved in various ways with other theatre organizations throughout the Twin Cities, including Mixed Blood Theatre Company, Children’s Theatre Company, Guthrie Theater, Daleko Arts, Theatre in the Round, Minnesota Fringe Festival and more. He is also a co-producer of The New Griots Festival, dedicated to promoting the work of the next generation of Twin Cities black artists across disciplines (visual, performing, literary, etc.).

Also fitting is that Jamil recently directed Baltimore is Burning, a new play about the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. It was the inaugural production for the promising new theatre company Underdog Theatre, which “creates art for the underserved, underrepresented, and unheard,” and satisfyingly garnered good reviews. Kory LaQuess Pullam, who has graced Park Square’s stages, is its playwright and the founding artistic director of Underdog.

Darrick Mosley, Kevin West and Peter Thomson in The Highwaymen, directed by Jamil Jude (photo by Scott Pakudaitis)

Darrick Mosley, Kevin West and Peter Thomson in The Highwaymen, directed by Jamil Jude
(photo by Scott Pakudaitis)

Dear to Jamil’s heart is his latest project, directing The Highwaymen, a new play based on research that Jamil and playwright Josh Wilder did on the destruction of St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood in the 1960s to make way for I-94. The demolition of that thriving, predominantly black community echoed similar occurrences throughout the nation to make way for progress on the backs of people of color. Josh dedicated The Highwaymen, which runs through February 26 at the History Theatre in St. Paul, to “the memories we step on and the lives we drive over.”

In November 2015, Jamil was listed in American Theatre, a publication and theatre communications group, as one of “Six Theatre Workers You Should Know.” Whether as part of Park Square Theatre, someone else’s team or working solo, he’ll ever strive to bring us socially relevant theatre to spark constructive community interactions and inspire social change. Whatever Jamil touches, you can just feel them coming: those positive vibrations.

 

“Four Women” by Nina Simone

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Written by Nina Simone, “Four Women” was released in 1966 on her album Wild is the Wind. The song has four verses to describe four African American women with different backgrounds and personalities.

In the play Nina Simone: Four Women by Christina Ham, which had its world premiere at Park Square Theatre last season to sold out crowds, the four women are played by Aimee K. Bryant as Sarah, Jamila Anderson as Saffronia, Traci Allen Shannon as Sweet Thing and Regina Williams as Nina Simone/Peaches. Don’t miss their powerful performance of “Four Women” and other Simone classics!  Don’t miss it this year, The run has just been extended through Sunday, March 5!

My skin is black
My arms are long
My hair is woolly
My back is strong
Strong enough to take the pain
inflicted again and again
What do they call me
My name is AUNT SARAH
My name is Aunt Sarah

My skin is yellow
My hair is long
Between two worlds
I do belong
My father was rich and white
He forced my mother late one night
What do they call me
My name is SAFFRONIA
My name is Saffronia

My skin is tan
My hair is fine
My hips invite you
my mouth like wine
Whose little girl am I?
Anyone who has money to buy
What do they call me
My name is SWEET THING
My name is Sweet Thing

My skin is brown
my manner is tough
I’ll kill the first mother I see
my life has been too rough
I’m awfully bitter these days
because my parents were slaves
What do they call me
My name is PEACHES

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