Review: THE LION TELLS HIS TALE at Broadway Performance Hall

Delbert Richardson’s award-winning traveling museum, The “Unspoken” Truths, comes to life on stage

By: May. 04, 2024
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Review: THE LION TELLS HIS TALE at Broadway Performance Hall
Delbert Richardson in The Lion Tells His Tale at
Broadway Performance Hall. Photo Credit: Joe Moore

History is often rewritten in a way that is easier to digest, leading to hundreds of years of misinformation and erasure of the struggles of marginalized and persecuted groups. Artfully directed by Steve Sneed, Intiman Theatre has officially opened the world premiere of The Lion Tells His Tale, the first staged production of Delbert Richardson’s nationally recognized and multi-award-winning traveling museum, The “Unspoken” Truths.

The Lion Tells His Tale takes audiences on a journey of awakening as the brilliance, resistance, and resilience of Black people from Africa to the Americas is brought to life. The 11-person cast uses artifacts, music, dance, and spoken word to guide a young storyteller through time. The show centers on the African proverb, “Until the lion tells his tale, the hunt will always glorify the hunter,” to accentuate the historical silencing of Black voices and stories.

The Lion Tells His Tale marks Vida Oliphant Sneed’s professional playwriting debut. Her ability to capture the essence of the renowned traveling museum through her writing lends itself to the raw caliber of this production. Every sentence and every word was intentional, resulting in an outstanding script.

Delbert Richardson himself plays an integral part in the show, taking the audience on a guided journey through the four parts of his traveling museum, “Mother Africa, which highlights the numerous contributions by Africans in STEM fields; American Chattel Slavery, which delves into the brutal treatment and psychological impacts on African Americans of the Diaspora; The Jim Crow era, which examines the racial caste system and the creation and enforcement of legalized segregation; and Still We Rise, which focuses on the myriad contributions in the Americas by Black inventors and inventions.”

Review: THE LION TELLS HIS TALE at Broadway Performance Hall
Rajnii Eddins in The Lion Tells His Tale at
Broadway Performance Hall. Photo Credit: Joe Moore

Delbert joins a locally-based cast onstage, featuring Deejay Brown (Young Storyteller), Rajnii Eddins (Justin/Imhotep/Ensemble), Hazel Rose Gibson (Grace/Queen Tiye/Ensemble), Tracy Michelle Hughes (Khadija/Queen Hatshepsut/Vocalist/Ensemble), Antonio Mitchell (Miles/Ensemble), Faith Bennett Russell (Joetta/Ensemble), Erwin E. A. Thomas (The Storyteller), Seyvon West (Malik/Ensemble), Alvedo (Dancer), Kearia Keke Duncan (Dancer), and Charlie Cash (Guest Artist).

It is evident that this production was developed with the utmost love and passion, with each cast member exuding a level of electric energy from scene to scene, engaging the audience to the highest extent.

The cast cohesively works together to tell the story through a variety of different mediums, highlighting the vast skill sets of each performer. Kearia Keke Duncan has multiple moving dance solos, beautifully choreographed by Vania C. Bynum, that are breathtaking both in her movements and the symbolism behind each piece.

Erwin E. A. Thomas guides us through the first act as The Storyteller. As he walks the audience through different eras in history, he provides a fervent energy that we get to watch directly impact the Young Storyteller. Thomas yields a powerful and influential stage presence that easily keeps the audience engaged.

Scenic Designer Jennifer Zeyl masterfully crafts a stage that directly transports us straight from the traveling museum into the theater. Lining the stage with artifacts against a shipment container backdrop–emanating the feeling that we are in the museum archives ourselves–allows for an exclusive, in-depth look at Richardson’s museum. Doris Black provided beautiful costumes, allowing each of the actors to morph into the various characters they portrayed. At one point, Black offers stunning red carpet looks for a celebration of famous creations patented by Black creators, such as the gas mask and ice cream scoop.

The Lion Tells His Tale combats the historical norm of erasing real history to fit a preferred narrative in a way that is not only extremely educational but also beautiful. Today, highlighting and uplifting Black stories is imperative. If you have the chance to catch this show, I’d highly recommend you book your tickets now.

Intiman Theatre’s The Lion Tells His Tale runs from now until March 5 at Broadway Performance Hall on campus at Seattle Central Community College. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit: https://www.intiman.org/



Comments

msbanksy on 5/4/2024

I saw The Lion Tells His Tale last night and, WOW, I was blown away! This show is absolutely incredible. The combination of humor, African American history, generational stewardship, and storytelling, resulted in a show that feels very unique, powerful, wildly educational, and inspiring. I laughed, I cried, and I learned SO much about African American history. And as an African American myself, it was also really moving to sit in a theater where the audience was probably composed of 90% black patrons. This is pretty unheard of across the theatrical landscape and left me feeling that audience representation like this, let alone an all-black cast, could also inspire and ignite theater-goers to further educate themselves and share their own black stories. As we've learned time and time again, representation is important and this production really hammered that home for me. 

I could totallyyy see this being a recurring or larger production one day, and I really do hope for a chance to see this sold out show again. Hats off to everyone involved in the production of this show, and thank you!!




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