Impact Theatre Atlanta And Synchronicity Theatre Present World Premiere Of Kelundra Smith's THE WASH

Written by native Atlantan Kelundra Smith, this bold new play explores the incredible women behind the 1881 Atlanta washerwomen strike.

By: Feb. 23, 2024
Impact Theatre Atlanta And Synchronicity Theatre Present World Premiere Of Kelundra Smith's THE WASH
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In June and July, two local professional theatres will come together to launch the rolling world premiere of The Wash. 

Written by native Atlantan Kelundra Smith, this bold new play explores the incredible women behind the 1881 Atlanta washerwomen strike, one of the largest, successful interracial, organized labor strikes of the post-Civil War era.

The Wash was originally developed in part by Hush Harbor Lab, whose mission is to be “a brave space for the development and production of new and innovative digital, live, and multi-media performance work by Black Atlanta-based artists.” In a powerful representation of women who come together to make change, Synchronicity and Impact partnered to host a workshop and reading of the play in spring 2023, and will open the world premiere production on June 7, 2024. 

The play will run for four weeks at Synchronicity's space in midtown Atlanta (June 7-30, 2024) and then three weeks at Impact's space in Hapeville at The Academy (July 10-28, 2024).

About the Play:

Black laundresses in Atlanta led a strike weeks before the International Cotton Exposition came to town. Demanding to set their own wages, the Atlanta Washerwomen's Strike of 1881 was one of the largest interracial, organized labor strikes of the post-Civil War era. “The Wash” offers an intimate and often funny look at ordinary women who went from workers to fighters– and won.  

It is no coincidence that the Atlanta Washerwomen's Strike took place during the same year that Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary (ABFS), now Spelman College, was founded. Much like millions of workers today, in the years following the Civil War, Black women in Atlanta were taking control of their own destinies by demanding fair pay for their labor and fighting for a quality education. In the play, the character Jewel, is attending classes at ABFS and bringing what she's learning in the classroom back to the women in the laundry co-op where she lives and works. She wants to show that “God can speak to a woman the same way as a man.” The strike had a reverberating affect around the state, with nurses, cooks other domestic workers from Rome to Savannah demanding a fair wage as a result of the women's bravery.

About the playwright:

 

Kelundra Smith calls her plays ‘restorative narratives.'  A long-time theater critic and the new Managing Editor of American Theatre Magazine, Smith now adds playwright to her list of talents.  The Wash is part of a history trilogy that she is writing, and will mark her first professional production. 

“I am the daughter of Black southern parents who are the children of Black southern parents who were the children of Black southern parents. The geography and culture of the South form my being and inform my work. It looks like pine needles blowing in the breeze; smells like earth after the rain; sounds like jazz and gospel in equal measure; and tastes like collard greens with turkey necks. This is my American experience.” – Kelundra Smith

Cast & Crew

Directed by Impact Artistic Director Brenda Porter, the show hosts a tremendous design team including Maliya McCall (lights), Kat Conley (set), Drieka Lloyd (props), Dr. L. Nyrobi Moss (costumes), Kimberly Binns (projections), Dawn Axam (movement), and award-winning podcaster Kacie Willis (sound); and cast including Tonia Jackson, Tanya Freeman, Jamila Turner, Asha Basha Duniani, Aminah Williams, and Charis Sellick; along with ‘swing' performers Hannah Rose Bloom and Jessica Thompson.

Community Partners + Events

 

Synchronicity and Impact are creating a number of different opportunities for the community to engage with The Wash and this powerful story, including public events, student workshops, and more.  New partners are coming on board daily, but the current Community Partners include: Spelman University, Dekalb School of the Arts, and the GSU Special Collections - Southern Labor Archives and Women & Gender; who will co-host a public event on April 18, 5-6:30pm, showcasing excerpts from the play, and a panel discussion with Smith, and both artistic directors Brenda Porter and Rachel May.

About Impact Theatre Atlanta:

 

Impact Theatre is a professional theatre who produce shows in partnership with Academy Theatre in Hapeville, with a mission to give voice to women and others who have been marginalized by our society and challenge our diverse audiences to strive toward a better understanding of each other.  www.impacttheatreatlanta.org

About Synchronicity Theatre: 

 

Synchronicity Theatre is a prominent non-profit professional theatre company dedicated to smart, gutsy, bold theatre experiences that spark community connections and uplift the voices of women and girls. Synchronicity produces plays in midtown Atlanta, and runs many outreach, education, and engagement events across the metro area.  Renowned for a commitment to diverse and inclusive storytelling, community engagement, and innovative programming, Synchronicity Theatre has served the metro Atlanta community for 26 years.




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