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Chicago Trilogy

Chicago Trilogy 

Join us for a Special Reader’s Theatre Event
at the 2015 Atlanta Black Theatre Festival,
Friday, October 9, 2015, 4 – 5:30 pm
at the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center on the Morehouse Campus
Directed by MARDRA THOMAS
With George Shirley, Mardra Thomas , Keith Williams,and Thomasina Clarke

Connect to this event or sign up at www.MRTJazz.com for updates and further details. #‎ChicagoTrilogy
A MRTJazz Production

 In A CHANCE MEETING two former employees of a wealthy white family meet, revealing contrasting attitudes about race and class. In THE LOOKOUT Mildred parks outside a mansion to watch the guests arrive at a luncheon in honor of her college roommate to which she has not been invited.  In BLACK FOR DINNER Anita, unaware her husband is near death, wears a black cocktail dress to her dinner party for the social leaders of the Hyde Park African American community.

National Medal of Arts winner George Shirley will appear in two of the one-act plays in CHICAGO TRILOGY: A CHANCE MEETING and BLACK FOR DINNER. Mr. Shirley received the award this September at a special White House ceremony.

Music History

To purchase this play on Amazon click here.

Music History brings to life the aspirations and values of African American students from Chicago at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1963.  When Etta and Walter meet at Walter’s apartment, the sparks are there as well as the conflicts. Walter, intellectual, hip, newly returned from SNNC’s (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) voter registration campaign in Mississippi, is struggling to readjust to life on campus with an eye to returning to his work with SNCC.  Etta, an independent free spirit, tries to gain Walter’s trust.  Etta and Walter must deal with social pressures and racial segregation as they come to terms with themselves and each other in this coming-of-age drama that connects the personal and the political, the desire for personal fulfillment and a commitment to social change.

The Will

To purchase this play on Amazon click here. 

The Will, written by Sandra Seaton portrays the life of an African American family in a small town in Tennessee after the Civil War. The play offers both a dramatization of the experience of African Americans during Reconstruction and an interpretation of African American culture that brings out the place of classical music in African American history and life. The story of families like the Websters of The Will remains almost entirely untold. The father of the family, Cyrus Webster, is determined to pass on not only his worldly possessions but also his courage and wisdom to his descendants.

The character of Patti was inspired by the life of Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, a renowned African American opera singer of the Civil War and Reconstruction era.

Photo Credits: The Will, Act I, Scene 3, Regina Riddle as Eliza Webster, Keith Williams as Cyrus Webster, Plachta Auditorium, Central Michigan University, February 2013.

From the Diary of Sally Hemings

To purchase this CD, please click here.

                 To purchase this score, please click here.

From the Diary of Sally Hemings, a song cycle for voice and piano with libretto by Sandra Seaton and music by composer William Bolcom, was written at the request of mezzo soprano Florence Quivar.  The work recreates the thoughts and feelings of Sally Hemings throughout her long relationship with Thomas Jefferson by means of fictional diary entries.  The 18 songs in this imaginary journal provide a surprising yet persuasive interpretation of the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, officially a slave but also the half-sister of Jefferson’s wife, Martha Wayles Jefferson. The songs trace the life of Sally Hemings from her earliest memory, Martha Jefferson dying from complications following childbirth, to her sojourn in Paris with Jefferson and finally her life with Jefferson at Monticello until his death.

Premiered by mezzo soprano Florence Quivar and pianist  J.J. Penna at Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress with additional performances at  Kennedy Center, San Francisco Performances, Lied Center,  Rialto, and University Musical Society. Performed by soprano Alyson Cambridge and pianist Lydia Brown at Carnegie Hall, Central Michigan University, Harkness Memorial Chapel in Cleveland and Oberlin Conservatory.  CD available on White Pine.  Score available at Hal Leonard.

Image: From the Diary of Sally Hemings; Music by William Bolcom; Text by Sandra Seaton; Alyson Cambridge, soprano; Lydia Brown, piano; White Pine Music (2010).