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Everyman Theatre's Season Continues With FLYIN' WEST

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The production runs from October 5 to 31.

Everyman Theatre's Season Continues With FLYIN' WEST

Everyman Theatre continues to welcome audiences back to LIVE THEATRE with the second offering in its 31st season, Pearl Cleage's groundbreaking play FLYIN' WEST. The production at Everyman Theatre is directed by Associate Artistic Director and Resident Company Member Paige Hernandez and runs from October 5 to 31.

It's 1898 and four African American women have left the racial violence and danger of the oppressive South and headed West to take their chances as pioneers on the harsh, undeveloped frontier of Nicodemus, Kansas. Taking advantage of the post-emancipation Homestead Act, these women laid claim to land with the hopes of finding the freedom that had been denied to them for so long. Cleage's work explores themes of determination, racial pride, gender, intermarriage, and love to ultimately highlight the female empowerment that is evident in so many of her books, essays, poems, and plays.

"Flyin' West is one of those plays that has you on the edge of your seat leaning in at every turn," says Founder and Artistic Director, Vincent Lancisi. "Pearl Cleage weaves a suspenseful fictional story of a notable moment in our history, of people heading West in search of the American Dream; people who have lived an American Nightmare from the moment they arrived or were born. This is a family drama, a melodrama of the highest order, and we root for these sisters every step of the way!"

In writing Flyin' West, Cleage sought to inform audiences that the Homestead Act enabled people from all races and genders to own land and to use that land to support themselves, or to develop it and sell it for a profit. The play also looks at how individuals, families, and communities survive together. Among the difficulties of everyday life, there is power in knowing who we are and where we go, as the women in the play affirm their identity as 'three Negro women.' The sisters, Sophie, Fannie, and Minnie, and their neighbor Miss Leah, have to empower each other, especially when Minnie's abusive relationship becomes increasingly violent. When that violence threatens all their well-being, they have to decide how to maintain their freedom and their sisterhood. Flyin' West was originally commissioned in 1992 by the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta.

At Everyman, the ensemble cast for Flyin' West features Aakhu TuahNera Freeman as Miss Leah, Eleasha Gamble as Sophie Washington, Bianca Lipford as Minnie Dove Charles, Calvin McCullough as Frank Charles, Briana Gibson Reeves as Fannie Dove, and Everyman Resident Company member Jefferson A. Russell as Wil Parish.

Pearl Cleage is an Atlanta-based writer whose works include three novels - What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day, I Wish I Had A Red Dress, and Some Things I Never Thought I'd Do; a dozen plays, including Flyin' West, Blues for an Alabama Sky, Hospice and Bourbon at the Border; two books of essays, Mad at Miles: A Black Woman's Guide to Truth and Deals With the Devil and Other Reasons to Riot; and a book of short fiction, The Brass Bed and Other Stories.

She is also a performing artist, collaborating frequently with her husband, Zaron W. Burnett, Jr. under the title Live at Club Zebra. Cleage is also a contributing writer for ESSENCE Magazine, and in 1998, her novel What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day, was an Oprah Book Club pick and spent nine weeks on The New York Times Bestseller List. In 2021, Cleage was named the first-ever poet laureate for the City of Atlanta by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom.

Director Paige Hernandez considers Pearl Cleage one of her mentors. A Baltimore native, Hernandez is a multidisciplinary artist who is critically acclaimed as a performer, director, choreographer and playwright. She has 20 years of experience in arts administration, creating new works, producing and performing. She's worked as an Equity actress on stages throughout the country including Everyman Theatre, and is also a critically acclaimed director. At Everyman, she directed all three productions in the Queens Girl trilogy as well as Proof and Pipeline. As a playwright, she has collaborated with the Lincoln Center and has been commissioned by several companies including the National New Play Network, the Smithsonian, The Kennedy Center, La Jolla Playhouse and Glimmerglass Festival. She is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades and has been named a "classroom hero" by The Huffington Post, a "Citizen Artist Fellow" with the Kennedy Center, "40 under 40" by the Washington Post and one of "Six Theatre Workers You Should Know" by American Theatre Magazine. With her company B-FLY ENTERTAINMENT, Hernandez continues to develop and tour original work around the world.

In addition to Hernandez, the creative team includes set design by Andrew Cohen, lighting design by Harold F. Burgess II, sound design by Veronica J. Lancaster, and costume designs by David Burdick. Jamie Kranz serves as Stage Manager.

Single tickets for in-person performances of Flyin' West go on sale today and start at $29. Five-show subscriptions for the 2021/22 season at Everyman, starting at $99, are also available, and Video on Demand (VOD) streaming access for Flyin' West begins October 22 and is on sale now by visiting everymantheatre.org or calling 410.752.2208. Box office hours are Monday through Friday from 9am until 6pm and Saturdays from 10am until 5pm.


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