A SMALL OAK TREE RUNS RED Makes New York Premiere For 100th Anniversary of 1918 Holocaust Lynchings
To commemorate the 1918 holocaust lynchings of eleven African Americans, including Mary Turner and her unborn baby in Brooks County, Georgia, The Billie Holiday Theatre and RestorationART present the New York Premiere of A Small Oak Tree Runs Red by Brooklyn's own LeKethia Dalcoe, directed by renowned actor and director, Harry Lennix.
To recall the historically ubiquitous practice of the lynching of African Americans in the US (some 3,437 were lynched between the years 1882 and 1951) and to take an unflinching look at the history of domestic terrorism in the US, A Small Oak Tree Runs Red takes us to a place between reality and memory. This story features Mary Turner, played by Kyra Riley a young African American woman whose 1918 lynching, while eight months pregnant, prompted the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) officials to ask Missouri Republican Congressman Leonidas C. Dyer to craft the 1922 Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill whose passage was halted by a Southern Democratic filibuster in the US Senate. The cast also includes R.J. Foster as Hayes Turner and Yusef Miller as Sidney Johnson, all haunted by voices of the past, entangled in history and reprehensible acts against humanity, and armed with the understanding that to forget is to forever perish just like the countless stories before them, trapped within old newspapers and forgotten memories.
A Small Oak Tree Runs Red, set in 1918 - one hundred years ago, is presented against the current socio-cultural backdrop of continued racial unrest across the US in which news headlines in 2017 read: Noose found hanging from tree outside Brooklyn Public Library; Two Nooses Found in Brooklyn in Two Weeks; Police Slow to Probe Biracial Boy's Hanging in New Hampshire, Family Alleges; and Noose found at Metropolitan Opera prompts police investigation into possible hate crime.
"We believe deeply in the power of storytelling to illuminate history, a history that has come full circle 100 years later against a current cultural backdrop that is unfortunately still fraught with racial bias, discrimination and acts of domestic terrorism," stated Indira Etwaroo, Ph.D. Executive Director, The Billie Holiday Theatre and RestorationART. "I am honored to have extraordinary theater artist and director Harry Lennix bring Brooklyn's own treasure, LeKethia Dalcoe, and this powerful story to The Billie Holiday Theatre."
"A Small Oak Tree Runs Red is a specific story set within a specific time and place that has universal resonance: the persecution by powerful structures on a people who are marginalized," stated acclaimed director, Harry Lennix. "Well-crafted theater can be cathartic - soul cleansing - and an anodyne to what our life would be like without it. A Small Oak [Tree Runs Red] addresses the wounds of our past and, hopefully, helps us move that much closer to a place of healing."