30 Days of NYMF: BLACKfootNotes

By Donna Trinkoff, (Producing Artistic Director, Amas Musical Theatre)

“I’ve written a play about four African American women who changed the face of history,” Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj told me bluntly one day during rehearsal for Bubbling Brown Sugar,  a concert revival of the show that put Amas on the map all those moons ago, that he was directing for us a couple years back. “Who are they?” I asked. “You never heard of them, I promise”, he replied. “Wanna bet?” I said.  “How much?” he challenged. “I’ll do a reading of it IF I lose”, was my offer. “VERY COOL!” he says … “Here they are: Eliza Anna Grier, Geraldine Pittman Woods, Jane Cooke Wright, and Evelyn Boyd Granville.” 

Huh?

Well, we did the reading, were totally blown away, and I’m so excited we’re bringing BLACKfootNotes back!  I’m still stunned that these women are, as Rajendra so aptly states, mere “footnotes in history”. Ex-slave Greer was the first African American medical doctor (male or female) to practice in Georgia. Breakthrough neuroembriologist Woods was also a pioneer champion of minority education opportunities. NASA scientist Granville was one of the first African American women mathematicians. And cancer researcher Wright was one of the first to graduate Harvard Medical School. To this day you can’t find out all that much more by googling them. But what stories!

And, what singer/actresses portraying them!! Julia Lema (Ain’t Misbehavin, Lena Horne—the Lady and Her Music), Sherry Boone (Jelly’s Last Jam, Marie Christine), Chaundra Cameron (Yo, Alice!, Legends), and Gia McGlone (Aida, Beehive)!! Audiences rarely get to see this much DP onstage. That’s “Diva-Power” to non-initiates. Director Nick Petrie’s job is to try to keep the roof on the house during storm season.

And, we get to bring this show to high schools later in the year! Anyone know of any minority teenagers, especially girls, who might benefit from some new role models, as they consider education and career choices that will shape their lives and our communities?  I thought so!

I’m really glad I lost that bet.



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From This Author 30 Days of NYMF 2008