With ‘Flyin’ West ‘, Everyman Theater delivers on its commitment to EDI
With the production of Pearl Cleage’s revolutionary coin Fly west, Everyman Theater lives up to its commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion at all levels of its organization. First through the creative direction of Paige Hernandez, recently appointed Associate Artistic Director and Resident Company Member, and second through her investment in the seasoned ensemble of Actors’ Equity Association members who are making a compelling historic piece. like Fly west come to life.
This intergenerational piece featuring four pioneering women overcoming intimidating obstacles is also a reflection of the art director’s vision and personal growth experience, which included rewarding mentorship by Pearl Cleage and Black Women Power, a relationship that led to the opportunity to work under Cleage’s direction at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta.
“I like the opportunity to Fly west and its connection to issues of gentrification and the importance of land to black people, ”Hernandez explains.
The overall distribution for Fly west stars Jefferson A. Russell, veteran member of the Everyman Resident Company, as a reliable and upright neighbor, Wil Parish, Aakhu Tuah, Nera Freeman as former slave Miss Leah, Eleasha Gamble as a prairie woman in arms at late, Sophie Washington, and Calvin McCullough as a devious and abusive brother. brother-in-law Frank Charles, who sees only personal benefit in his wife’s share in Nicodemus’ land deed.
Newcomers Bianca Lipford as fragile, abused wife Minnie Dove Charles and Briana Gibson Reeves as peacekeeper’s sister Fannie Dove make their Everyman Theater debut, which makes up the ‘Three Black Women’ Sophie, Fannie and Minnie, who carried their childhood songs. of love and kinship to the prairie of the west.
But Aakhu Tuah’s performance Nera Freeman as aging matriarch Miss Leah is the glue that holds the young sisters together and gives them strength, through her wisdom as a woman weary of the world, to overcome domestic violence and the feeling of ruthlessness. of male domination that threatens their dreams of making Nicodemus, Kansas, an early post-Reconstruction vision of Black Wall Street in Tulsa generations later.
Miss Leah is a griot who conveys the haunting stories of the family’s lost souls during slavery that Fannie Dove pledges to write to preserve Miss Leah’s stories, which include a mystical secret recipe that Miss Leah uses to cast a spell. which ultimately saves the sisters from the loss of their land assets.
As a history lesson, Fly west achieves Cleage’s goal of informing the modern public of the Homestead Act of 1862, which made public lands accessible to all races and genders to support themselves or develop to sell for a profit.
Kudos also to Founding Artistic Director Vincent Lancisi for paying homage to the Native American Indian tribes Piscataway and Lumbee, upon which Everyman Theater stands, and the African-American slaves who built the city of Baltimore.
“Pearl Cleage is Atlanta’s Poet Laureate,” Lancisi said, “and we chose this piece as the most produced regional piece to open a window into the past.” Fly west respects Everyman Theater’s motto, “Well-Told Stories”.
In addition to Hernandez, the creative team includes scenography by Andrew Cohen; the lighting design by Harold F. Burgess II, which produced a spellbinding “Good Luck Moon” effect at the end of the play; sound designer Veronica J. Lancaster, who incorporated a highly effective choir clap that added witty emphasis to act-to-act transitions; and period costumes by David Burdick, which complemented the authentic and rustic set design.
Duration: About two hours and 20 minutes, including intermission.
Fly west plays until October 31, 2021 at the Everyman Theater, 315 West Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD. The show can also be viewed online anytime from October 22 to November 14, 2001, but tickets for digital streaming access must be purchased by Sunday, October 31 at midnight.. Tickets (in person, $ 29 to $ 59; streaming, $ 19.99) can be purchased in line or by calling 410-752-2208. The counters are open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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WRITTEN BY PEARL CLEAGE
DIRECTED BY PAIGE HERNANDEZ
MISS LEAH: Aakhu Tuah Nera Freeman
SOPHIE WASHINGTON: Eleasha Gamble
MINNIE DOVE CHARLES: Bianca Lipford
FRANK CHARLES: Calvin McCullough
FANNIE DOVE: Briana Gibson Reeves
WIL PARSON: Jefferson A. Russell
SCENOGRAPHY: Andrew Cohen
COSTUME DESIGN: David Burdick
LIGHTING DESIGN: Harold F. Burgess II
SOUND DESIGN: Veronica J. Lancaster
WIG DESIGN: Linda Cavell
STAGE DIRECTOR: Jamie J. Kranz
FIGHTS / PRIVACY: Lewis Shaw
SEE ALSO: Season 2021/22 Live From Everyman Theater Starts In August