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San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company Honors U.S Park Services Ranger In New Roots Theatre Festival

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The performance is one of eight projects of the inaugural two-day New Roots Theatre Festival.

Ninety-nine and counting until Wednesday, September 22nd when The U.S. National Park Services' oldest Park Ranger, Betty Reid Soskin (Rosie Riveter World War II Home Front Historical Park) turns 100 years old and the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company continues to pay tribute with rehearsals for "Sign My Name to Freedom: The Unheard Songs of Betty Reid Soskin."

The performance is one of eight projects of the inaugural two-day "New Roots Theatre Festival," October 16th and 17th at the historic Brava Theater Center in the historic Mission District of San Francisco. Ms Soskin has among her many accolades and awards, the Bay Area famed "Golden Girl Award" of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Inc. San Francisco Chapter; the West Contra Costa County School District renaming of a middle school in her honor on her birth date, September 22nd and Sunday, September 26th the Rosie Riveter Trust honors Ms. Soskin at their sold out in-person gala.

SFBATCO is honored to be the first theatrical company to tell the Reid Soskin story in support of lead artist Jamie Zimmer, who has created a musical based on Reid Soskin's book, "Sign My Name to Freedom: A Memoir of a Pioneering Life" with original music by Ms. Reid Soskin. "The planning of the 'New Roots Theatre Festival' has been underway for months and we are pleased to have the distinct honor of telling Ms. Soskin's advocacy and lifelong community service," said Mecca Billings, President of the Board of Directors of SFBATCO. "We are doubly honored that her daughter, Di'ara Reid will be at the debut performance of 'Sign My Name to Freedom: The Unheard Songs of Betty Reid Soskin.'"

Accolades for Ms. Reid Soskin's accomplishments and the SFBATCO production "Sign My Name to Freedom: The Unheard Songs of Betty Reid Soskin" are being expressed. "As a board member for Rosie the Riveter Trust, I'm delighted to see SFBATCO celebrating Betty Reid Soskin on the occasion of her 100th birthday. As the oldest active park ranger, she is dedicated to sharing her experience as a file clerk during WWII, and she has given a much-needed voice to the experience of Blacks and other minorities during World War II. She is a treasure to the National Park Service and also to Rosie's, women in the workforce, and people of color all across the country," said Michelle Fadelli, Secretary of the Rosie Riveter Trust Board of Directors.

"As Jamie Zimmer, an LBGTQ Chinese-American artist along with Joanna Haigood, Laura Elaine Ellis and Dr. John Calloway pay tribute to Ms. Soskin, an African American Woman, 'Sign My Name to Freedom: The Unheard Songs of Betty Reid Soskin' is a manifestation of the SFBATCO mission to produce compelling theater that builds community, fosters cross-cultural dialogue and promotes social justice," said Rodney Earl Jackson Jr., Co-founder of SFBATCO. "Adding to the synergy with Ms. Soskin's life, we both have September beginnings," said Marcelo Javier, Co-founder of SFBATCO.

"We are celebrating our seventh anniversary this month and Ms. Soskin is celebrating her centennial birthday, in a sense signifying in another way, the 'new' and the 'root' in the "New Roots Theatre Festival."

An original SFBATCO Project, "Sign My Name To Freedom: The Unheard Songs of Betty Reid-Soskin" explores the original music and metamorphic life of Bay Area legend Betty Reid Soskin, the oldest living park ranger in the United States of America, lead artist Jamie Zimmer (2020 California Jazz Conservatory graduate) has culled unreleased musical recordings from over fifty-years ago, interviews, and articles to create the first presentation of this musical. Laura Elaine Ellis will be joining as directing choreographer, Joanna Haigood as associate choreographer and Dr. John Calloway as associate musical arranger.

Over the two-day festival, theater goers can create their own theatrical experience by mixing and matching the "Performance Blocks." In addition to "Sign My Name to Freedom: The Unheard Songs of Betty Reid Soskin, other plays emanating from SFBATCO are in house playwright Aidaa Peerzada's "Shining," a reimagined Afro-futurist take on the Greek myth of Phaeton, and SFBATCO's own Othello Jefferson, Jamie Yuen-Shore, and Christine Chung and the revival of "I, Too, Sing America."

Performances from legacy partners are: The African-American Shakespeare Company (The Complete Works of William Shakespeare {Abridged}[Revised];" The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre (LHT Artistic Director, Margo Hall and Traci Tolmaire's "In the Evening by the Moonlight" about friends: Lorraine Hansberry, Nina Simone and James Baldwin); AfroSolo (Founder, Thomas Simpson's San Francisco: Variation of Black Joy, White Supremacy and Hope!);" Cuicacalli Ballet Folklórico ("México Lindo y Querido"); and PUSH Dance. Two days of thought-provoking performances are available for the price of $30 for a "Two-Block Package" (4 projects) or $50 for the entire festival "Four-Block Package" (8 projects).

For specific ticket information click this link: https://www.sfbatco.org/schedule. For more information about the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company visit: www.sfbatco.org.


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