BWW Review: 50IN50: LETTERS TO OUR DAUGHTERS Raises The Roof in Brooklyn
On March 9 in Brooklyn and March 16 in Los Angeles, The Billie Holiday Theatre, in collaboration with Frank Silvera Writers' Workshop, presented its third annual monologue showcase, 50IN50: LETTERS TO OUR DAUGHTERS, to honor Women's History Month.
Premiering at the Kumble Theater at Long Island University in Brooklyn, 50 original monologues by women of the African Diaspora from across the globe were read by actors Marsha Stephanie Blake, Ebony Joann, Jasmine Cephas Jones, LaChanze, Terria Joseph, Celestine Rae, Angelica Ross, Michele Shay, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, and Paulette Pearson Washington with music performed by Maritri Garrett. Some of the authors attended and joined the actors on stage at the end of the evening.
The result was a moving and empowering night of varying voices, including Alicia Keys' mother, who wrote about raising her talented powerhouse daughter. Many memorable lines came out of the works, such as memories of mother's not-so-comforting words, "I ain't gonna beat you until I get tired because I ain't gonna get tired." Or inspirational sentiments such as, "Don't force the wrong puzzle pieces to fit," "You are imperfect, and imperfect looks damn good on you," and "Your home is not fatherless; it's mother-full."
I was surprised and delighted that at least two of the monologues were by childless women. One said, "Ladies, you owe no one grandchildren" and "Sperm is a renewable resource." Others wrote to the children they never had and wished they had, including a woman who experienced a miscarriage. Another was written by a woman 40 years after her abortion, expressing her regret, especially since she had been unable to conceive during her subsequent childbearing years.
Some of the monologues were direct advice to daughters, such as "Before you date, get comfortable saying no." and "you have to be confident to say no to all that dishonors you." A particularly funny piece depicted the saga of a woman who felt she lost her virginity during her first pap smear. "I lost my virginity to Kaiser Permanente!" she lamented dramatically.
The final word of the evening, however, was simply "Thrive!" It was a coming together of powerful female voices to express their pain, triumphs, and hopes for the future.
The performance was presented in Los Angeles at the WACO Theater Center.