Performances Begin 5/5 For HAVING OUR SAY: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years
Goodman Theatre celebrates the lives of "two strong, vibrant women dispensing joy and wisdom" (Chicago Tribune) in a major revival of Emily Mann's Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years. Directed by the Goodman's longtime Resident Director Chuck Smith, the production features Ella Joyce and Marie Thomas as the Delany centenarians, Bessie (1891 - 1995) and Sadie (1889 -1999), respectively. The sisters were discovered in 1991 when Amy Hill Hearth interviewed them for The New York Times. Following the article, the trio co-authored the book, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years-a New York Times bestseller and heartfelt reflection of their family history and triumphs over prejudices in times of social unrest. Mann adapted it for the stage, first at McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, New Jersey and then to Broadway, where it ran for 317 performances. Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years appears May 5 - June 10, 2018 in the Albert Theatre (opening night is Monday, May 14). Tickets ($20 - $75; subject to change) are now on sale at GoodmanTheatre.org/HavingOurSay, by phone at 312.443. 3800 or at the box office (170 North Dearborn). ComEd is the Major Corporate Sponsor, Conagra Brands Foundation is the Major Production Sponsor and ITW and PwC are the Corporate Sponsor Partners.
"While many plays deal with a particular moment in time, Having Our Say encapsulates more than a century of America, introducing us to two women who serve as discerning, loving narrators of both their personal story and of our nation's history," said Artistic Director Robert Falls. "For 25 years, Chuck Smith's work has given audiences the unparalleled opportunity to explore the 19th and 20th centuries through the lens of the African American experience-and I'm thrilled to present his interpretation of this deeply moving and vital play."
This year marks the 25th anniversary of their New York Times bestselling memoir, which serves as a narrative of a century-long swath of triumphs, stagnations and progress in 20th century America. Born in 1889 and 1891 in North Carolina, Sarah "Sadie" L. Delany and A. Elizabeth "Bessie" Delany lived together for more than 100 years and were two of 10 children born to Henry and Nanny Delany. Their father was born a slave in 1858, and later became the country's first African American Episcopal bishop and vice principal of St. Augustine's College in Raleigh, North Carolina. Their mother also worked at St. Augustine's as a matron, and the sisters spent their childhood on the campus before moving to New York City to pursue educations and careers. Sadie was a schoolteacher---the first African American permitted to teach high school-level domestic science in New York City-until her retirement in 1960. She passed away at the age of 109 in 1999. In 1923, Bessie became the second African American woman to work as a dentist in New York City. Throughout her tenure, she never once raised her prices from $2 for a cleaning and $5 for a silver filling. She retired in 1950 and later passed away at the age of 104 in 1995.
"I think the sisters' stories and points of view have become even more important over time, we need to listen to one another, and especially to our wise elders, now more than ever", said Hearth, who recently published her 10th book, Streetcar to Justice: How Elizabeth Jennings Won the Right to Ride in New York, which is dedicated in part to the sisters. "The sisters had an enormous impact on my life. I don't take on any new writing projects unless I think Sadie and Bessie would approve."
The production design element features Linda Buchanan's turntable set that alternates between the Delany kitchen and living room, which houses more than 70 photo frames-some of which illuminate with historical images using projections designed by Mike Tutaj. The design team also includes Birgit Rattenborg Wise (costumes), John Culbert (lights) and Ray Nardelli (sound). Kimberly Ann McCann is the production stage manager.
TICKETS, DISCOUNTS AND SPECIAL EVENTS
Tickets ($20-$75) - GoodmanTheatre.org/HavingOurSay; 312.443.3800; Fax: 312.443.3825; TTY/TDD: 312.443.3829
Box Office Hours -12noon - 5pm; on performance days, the box office remains open until 30 minutes past curtain
MezzTix - Half-price day-of-performance mezzanine tickets available at 10am online (promo code MEZZTIX)
$10Tix - Student $10 day-of-performance tickets; limit four, with valid student ID (promo code 10TIX)
Group Sales are available for parties 10 ; 312.443.3820
Gift Certificates - Available in any amount; GoodmanTheatre.org/GiftCertificates
PROJECT CONECT BENEFIT - May 5 at 5pm | Petterino's (150 North Dearborn)
Tickets are $45-50. Project CoNect hosts "theater night" surrounding the major revival of Having Our Say. Join members of Project CoNect and director Chuck Smith for a pre-show reception, followed by the 8pm performance. Project CoNect is a community-based non-profit organization dedicated to empowering individuals through educational programming. Tickets can be found at Projectconect.org
SORORITY SISTERS NIGHT - May 10 at 6pm | The Alice Center
Tickets are $25. The Delany sisters were devoted members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. Celebrate sisterhood with complimentary drinks and hors d'oeuvres, followed by the 7:30pm performance and post-show discussion.
ARTIST ENCOUNTER - May 13 at 2pm | The Alice Center
Tickets are free for members; $10 for general public. Artist Encounters bring together audiences and Goodman artists in an intimate environment for a behind-the-scenes look at the plays and the playmaking process. Join director Chuck Smith as he discusses the process of bringing Having Our Say to life.
HAVING YOUR SAY ESTATE PLANNING SEMINAR - May 23 at 11:30am | The Alice Center
Tickets are free. Join Goodman Theatre for an afternoon of insights, artistic conversation and lunch. Learn from estate planning professions and a moderated discussion with artists from Having Our Say.
ACCESSIBILITY AT THE GOODMAN
Touch Tour, June 2 at 12:30pm - A presentation detailing the set, costume and character elements
Audio Described Performance, June 2 at 2pm - The action/text is audibly enhanced for patrons via headset
ASL Interpreted Performance, June 6 at 7:30pm - Professional ASL interpreter signs the action/text as played
Open Captioned Performance, June 9 at 2pm - An LED sign presents dialogue in sync with the performance
Visit Goodman Theatre.org/Access for more information about Goodman Theatre's accessibility efforts.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Emily Mann (Playwright) most recently collaborated with the Goodman on The Convert during the 2011/2012 Season. She is a multi-award-winning director and playwright in her 28th season as artistic director and resident playwright of McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, New Jersey. Under Mann's leadership, McCarter was honored with the 1994 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater. Her nearly 50 McCarter directing credits include productions by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Ibsen and Williams and the recent world premieres of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express; Baby Doll; Five Mile Lake; The Convert; The How and the Why; Miss Witherspoon and Me, Myself & I. This spring, Mann will direct the McCarter-commissioned world premiere of Christopher Durang's Turning Off the Morning News. Broadway credits include A Streetcar Named Desire, Anna in the Tropics, Execution of Justice and Having Our Say. Her plays include Having Our Say, adapted from the book by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth; Execution of Justice; Still Life; Annulla, An Autobiography; Greensboro (A Requiem); Meshugah; Mrs. Packard and Hoodwinked (a Primer on Radical Islamism). She is currently writing a play with Gloria Steinem and the stage adaptation of The Pianist. Adaptations include Baby Doll, Scenes from a Marriage, Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard, A Seagull in the Hamptons, The House of Bernarda Alba, Antigone. Awards and honors received include Peabody, Hull Warriner, NAACP, Obie's, Guggenheim; Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations, a Princeton University Honorary Doctorate of Arts, a Helen Merrill Distinguished Playwrights' Award, and the Margo Jones Award given to a "citizen-of-the-theater who has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to the encouragement of the Living Theatre everywhere."
Chuck Smith (Director) is a member of Goodman Theatre's Board of Trustees and is Goodman Theatre's Resident Director. He is also a resident director at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe in Sarasota, Florida. Goodman credits include the Chicago premieres of Objects in the Mirror; Pullman Porter Blues; By the Way, Meet Vera Stark; Race; The Good Negro; Proof and The Story; the world premieres of By the Music of the Spheres and The Gift Horse; James Baldwin's The Amen Corner, which transferred to Boston's Huntington Theatre Company, where it won the Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) Award for Best Direction; A Raisin in the Sun; Blues for an Alabama Sky; August Wilson's Two Trains Running and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom; Ain't Misbehavin'; the 1993 to 1995 productions of A Christmas Carol; Crumbs From the Table of Joy; Vivisections from a Blown Mind and The Meeting. He served as dramaturg for the Goodman's world-premiere production of August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean. He directed the New York premiere of Knock Me a Kiss and The Hooch for the New Federal Theatre and the world premiere of Knock Me a Kiss at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater, where his other directing credits include Master Harold... and the Boys, Home, Dame Lorraine and Eden, for which he received a Jeff Award nomination. Regionally, Smith directed Death and the King's Horseman (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Birdie Blue (Seattle Repertory Theatre), The Story (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), Blues for an Alabama Sky (Alabama Shakespeare Festival) and The Last Season (Robey Theatre Company). At Columbia College he was facilitator of the Theodore Ward Prize playwriting contest for 20 years and editor of the contest anthologies Seven Black Plays and Best Black Plays. He won a Chicago Emmy Award as associate producer/theatrical director for the NBC teleplay Crime of Innocence and was theatrical director for the Emmy-winning Fast Break to Glory and the Emmy-nominated The Martin Luther King Suite. He was a founding member of the Chicago Theatre Company, where he served as artistic director for four seasons and directed the Jeff-nominated Suspenders and the Jeff-winning musical Po'. His directing credits include productions at Fisk University, Roosevelt University, Eclipse Theatre, ETA, Black Ensemble Theater, Northlight Theatre, MPAACT, Congo Square Theatre Company, The New Regal Theater, Kuumba Theatre Company, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, Pegasus Players, the Timber Lake Playhouse in Mt. Carroll, Illinois and the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He is a 2003 inductee into the Chicago State University Gwendolyn Brooks Center's Literary Hall of Fame and a 2001 Chicago Tribune Chicagoan of the Year. He is the proud recipient of the 1982 Paul Robeson Award and the 1997 Award of Merit presented by the Black Theater Alliance of Chicago.
Amy Hill Hearth is a New York Times Bestselling Author, and an American Library Association "Notable Book" and Peabody Award Winner. She is also a Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and Publisher's Weekly Bestselling Author. Hearth's most recent book, Streetcar to Justice: How Elizabeth Jennings Won the Right to Ride in New York, was published Jan. 2, 2018. Written for middle-grade to adult readers, the book tells the all-but-forgotten story of Elizabeth Jennings, a black schoolteacher who refused to leave a segregated streetcar in Manhattan in 1854, setting into motion a historic court case and the first major step in ending segregation in public transportation in New York. She is the author of two novels, Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society and Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County, both published by Simon & Schuster's Atria Books imprint, as well as seven nonfiction books including Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years, a blockbuster bestseller which spawned a Broadway play and television film. She is the co-author of Know Your Power: A Message to America's Daughters by the first female speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Having Our Say, called a "classic oral history" by Newsweek magazine, remains a staple in American classrooms. The book is the story of two very wise and candid centenarian sisters, Sarah L. and A. Elizabeth Delany, whose father was born into slavery in the American South. The book was a New York Times Bestseller for 113 weeks. Hearth was an advisor on the Broadway play adaptation of Having Our Say, which earned three Tony Award nominations including Best Play. Hearth served again as advisor when the book was adapted for a CBS Sunday Night Movie in 1999. Directed by Academy Award winner Lynne Littman, the film starred Ruby Dee, Diahann Carroll, and Amy Madigan. Hearth's real-life role was portrayed by Madigan. Hearth began her career in the newspaper business. Having Our Say, in fact, began as a story she wrote about the then-unknown Delany Sisters for The New York Times. As a reporter who had always been interested in telling the stories of older people, she eagerly followed up on several leads about the mysterious and reclusive pair. When she finally met them, her hopes of an interview almost didn't work out, as she later told The New York Times in a story published on April 2, 1995: "They didn't think they were important enough. I had to convince them and gave this little impromptu speech - that I thought it was very important that people from their generation be represented, especially black women who hadn't had much opportunity. I guess my enthusiasm rubbed off." Hearth attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, majoring in Sociology, then transferred to the University of Tampa, Fla., where she earned a B.A. in Writing and was editor of the college newspaper. Her first newspaper job was assistant arts and entertainment editor at The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Mass. She was, also, an intern in investigative journalism at Tampa Magazine in spring 1982. Her first fulltime reporting job was in Florida at the Daytona Beach News-Journal (where she met her future husband when she interviewed him for a story). After relocating to the New York area, she wrote 88 bylined news and feature stories for The New York Times including her article on the Delany Sisters. Amyhillhearth.com
ABOUT Goodman Theatre
AMERICA'S "BEST REGIONAL THEATRE" (Time magazine), Goodman Theatre is a premier not-for-profit organization distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and civic engagement. Led by Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the theater's artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics (celebrated revivals include Falls' productions of Death of a Salesman and The Iceman Cometh). Goodman Theatre artists and productions have earned two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards, over 160 Jeff Awards and many more accolades. In addition, the Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson's "American Century Cycle" and its annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this season, has created a new generation of theatergoers. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production partner with local off-Loop theaters and national and international companies by providing financial support or physical space for a variety of artistic endeavors.
Committed to three core values of Quality, Diversity and Community, the Goodman proactively makes inclusion the fabric of the institution and develops education and community engagement programs that support arts as education. This practice uses the process of artistic creation to inspire and empower youth, lifelong learners and audiences to find and/or enhance their voices, stories and abilities. The Goodman's Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is the home of such programming, most offered free of charge, and has vastly expanded the theater's ability to touch the lives of Chicagoland citizens (with 85% of youth participants coming from underserved communities) since its 2016 opening.
Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago's cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family's legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth's family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.
Today, Goodman Theatre leadership also includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Brian Dennehy, Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Steve Scott, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. David W. Fox, Jr. is Chair of Goodman Theatre's Board of Trustees, Cynthia K. Scholl is Women's Board President and Justin A. Kulovsek is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.