Photo Flash: First Look at Goodman's HAVING OUR SAY: THE DELANY SISTERS' FIRST 100 YEARS
"Life is short, and it's up to you to make it sweet." - Sadie Delany (1889 -1999).
Goodman Theatre revives Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years, Emily Mann's "warming theatrical event" (Variety)that celebrates the lives of "two strong, vibrant women dispensing joy and wisdom" (Chicago Tribune). Goodman Theatre Resident Director Chuck Smith's production features Ella Joyce and Marie Thomas as the Delany centenarians, Bessie (1891 - 1995) and Sadie (1889 -1999), respectively, as they trace their lives in a heartfelt reflection of their family history and triumphs over prejudices in times of social unrest.
The creative team includes Linda Buchanan (set), Birgit Rattenborg Wise (costumes), John Culbert (lights), Ray Nardelli (sound) and Mike Tutaj (projections). Kimberly McCann is the production stage manager.
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) go on sale at GoodmanTheatre.org/HavingOurSay, by phone at 312.443. 3800 or at the box office (170 North Dearborn) on March 16. ComEd is the Major Corporate Sponsor, Conagra Brands Foundation is the Major Production Sponsor and ITW and Pwc are the Corporate Sponsor Partners.
"Whether it's two or 10 years from now, the Delany sisters' heartwarming and honest account of 20th century America will remain one of the most important stories of our lifetime-and a timeless reminder of what life was like for individuals of color in this country," said Director Chuck Smith. "I'm excited to reunite with two remarkable and accomplished actors, Ella Joyce and Marie Thomas, for what I know will be a riveting experience."
In 1991, Hearth interviewed both sisters for a feature length article for The New York Times. Following the article, the trio stayed in contact and later co-authored Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years. The book, which chronicled the sisters' 10 decades of life and served as a narrative of a century-long swath of American life, spent 113 weeks on The New York Times Bestsellers list. It was subsequently adapted for the stage by Mann and premiered in 1995 at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, New Jersey and was later transferred to Broadway, where it ran for 317 performances.
"I'm very excited about returning to my second hometown to work again with the brilliant Chuck Smith on this important classic and challenging piece of theater," said Ella Joyce, whose previous work with Smith includes Lynn Nottage's Crumbs from the Table of Joy. "I'm looking forward to sharing this adventure with the astute Chicago audience who will embark on an erudite and surprisingly wonderful profound literary visit to the past 100 plus years."
The Goodman production marks the second collaboration between Joyce and Thomas, who most recently completed filming the 2017 independent film Sweet Dreams, Mama.
"For me this production is very personal and feels as if I will be portraying many of my relatives-many of whom have lived to be 100 and older," said Marie Thomas, who makes her Goodman debut. "It reminds me of the history of survival of African Americans in the south, which is what attracted me. I'm excited to return to Chicago and work alongside Ella Joyce and Chuck Smith."
About the Delany Sisters'
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, NC. 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 in New York City---the first African American permitted to teach high school-level domestic science in the 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.