THE WHY OF MY CITY - FAIR GROUND Comes to ZACK Theatre in April

Performances are on April 18 and 19, 2024 at 7:00. 

By: Mar. 19, 2024
THE WHY OF MY CITY - FAIR GROUND Comes to ZACK Theatre in April
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The WHY of MY City – Fair Ground comes to ZACK Theatre in April. Performances are on April 18 and 19, 2024 at 7:00. 

Celebrate Black history and youth empowerment with a new production by Saint Louis Story Stitchers, written by Story Stitchers artists and directed by Sillo.

 In a top podcast show a 19-year-old Army Reservist draws inspiration from a Civil War  story about the power of young people to make progress towards fair ground.

The WHY of MY City is a multi-year signature program that captures and documents pieces of black history through written word and art while training the next generation to become active, engaged citizens. Our goal is that programs become a force multiplier, rippling into families, schools, and neighborhoods, offering solutions to common urban problems. 

Saint Louis Story Stitchers artists have been meeting since January to write a new script of fictional history for The WHY of MY City – Fair Ground, centering on the story of a young African American man, enslaved in central Missouri in 1862, who makes his way to St. Louis and joins the Union Army, becoming a free man upon enlisting. At Benton Barracks, which sat on the land we now call Fairground Park, he learned to read and write. After the Civil War, our young soldier joins with peers to create an amazing and lasting legacy for his home state. Our inspiring story is one that alumni of Lincoln University famously celebrate. Themes in the production include civic responsibility, young adults taking collective action to help others, and the power of youth to shape society and their world, including creating lasting change for the future. The WHY of MY City – Fair Groundhonors Black history, military service, quality education for all, and the great State of Missouri, which fosters the young leaders of tomorrow.

The WHY of MY City – Fair Ground  will be presented to the public April 18 and 19, 2024.

Director: Sillo, has an impressive career spanning several years, and has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry including Pretty Ricky, Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna and his expertise in dance has been showcased on prominent platforms such as BET and MTV. This is Sillo's fourth project with Saint Louis Story Stitchers. He served as choreographer for the 2023 production of The WHY of MY City, SAFE! Team’s 3 Steps Back dance and choreographer for Story Stitchers’ DJ UP performance, which premiered at Saint Louis Art Museum in 2023.

Producer: Susan Colangelo, MFA, LSU, is the founding president of the Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective and currently serves as president and CEO. Susan brings 30+ years of social justice arts practice and performing arts staging experience and serves as in-house video editor. 


Bobby Norfolk, as Elijah Jones, a Master Storyteller and Story Stitchers’ featured artist since 2017. In 1979, Bobby made his first appearance as a storyteller at the St. Louis Storytelling Festival. In television, Bobby won three Emmy awards as the host of the CBS TV show “Gator Tales. Bobby was given the national Circle of Excellence Oracle Award, an honor presented by the National Storytelling Network, which recognizes the very best storytellers in the nation. Bobby has won the prestigious Parents Choice Gold Award. He has co-authored eight children’s books, serves on the St. Louis Storytelling Festival Advisory Council, and is a featured artist in festivals world-wide. 

Michelle L. Eunice as Ava Williams, our StitchCast Studio show host, is herself a podcaster, TV host, motivational speaker, proud Spelman College graduate, and recent Sony Pictures Entertainment Fellow from the University of Southern California.

Keith Brown as John Jones, is a leader in Story Stitchers Youth Council, contributing to multiple projects including The WHY of MY City, StitchCast Studio, and SAFE! Team, and Perception Isn’t Always Reality.

Troy Anthony, creating videography for the performance, joined Story Stitchers as an Artist in Residence in 2018. He currently resides in East Saint Louis, Illinois and maintains a photography studio in St. Louis, Missouri. He joined the Army at the age of 17 where he achieved the rank of Sergeant First Class and is now retired from the 1st Infantry Division Band. Troy holds a BA in Operational Management and an MBA with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship from Ashford University in Iowa. He also has a Master’s certification in Entrepreneurship from Kansas University. He is a partner at two photography studios in the St. Louis region, the photographer for I Am East St. Louis, The Magazine, and the official photographer for the City of East St. Louis. 

Branden Lewis, performing multiple pieces in this production, is Story Stitchers’ Youth Artistic Coordinator, is a performing artist, poet, rap artist and songwriter. Lewis is a graduate of Central Visual and Performing Arts High School and is a featured leading artist at Story Stitchers since 2017, leading 75 episodes of StitchCast Studio and performing original work created at Story Stitchers Studios over 500 times at venues across the St. Louis region.

Reginald McNichols, aka DJ Ntegrity, as our production’s DJ UP lead, joined Story Stitchers as an Artist-in-Residence and part-time employee in 2018 and left in 2022 to pursue a new path in media. Ntegrity has been professionally recording, engineering, and producing for over thirteen years. In December 2015 Ntegrity graduated from Extreme Institute as valedictorian with a degree in Recording, Engineering, and Production with management and Avid Pro Tools 110 certified. He released his album “View from the Inside Out” in November, 2018 at Harris Stowe University.

Chris Pendleton aka Blue Beatz, leading music production and sound, is a teaching artist and Story Stitchers lead audio producer and engineer. Blue Beatz joined Story Stitchers as an audio engineer in 2019 and has been creating music, teaching production, and providing live sound and stage AV ever since. Chris has been professionally recording, engineering, and producing beats for recording artists for 15 years. He graduated from Extreme Institute with a degree in Recording, Engineering, and Production and is Avid Pro Tools certified. 

Rachael Jones, singer and artist, was the lead, Wanda, in the 2023 production of The WHY of MY City. Rachael has been an active member of Story Stitchers Youth Council since 2018, contributing to numerous performances and programs. She is also a leading youth on Perception Isn't Always Reality and StitchCast Studio.

Traydon Rogers aka Traydon Inspires, is a poet, singer, and artist. Traydon has been an active member of Story Stitchers Youth Council since 2018, contributing to numerous performances and programs. He is also a leading youth on Peace in the Prairie, Pick the City UP,  StitchCast Studio, and Perception Isn't Always Reality.

Malik Jones, is a rap artist and producer. Malik has been an active member of Story Stitchers Youth Council since 2023, beginning through a paid internship from SLATE, and since contributing to numerous performances and programs. He is a leading youth producer on Pick the City UP, StitchCast Studio, Perception Isn't Always Reality, and DJ UP.

The production’s company includes poet Azzy Shaw, rap artist Kashela Armstead, singer Sayuri Bonds, and dancers Aakirah Muhammad and Dembari Taneh.

Q&A sessions will follow each performance with John A. Wright, Jr. a Member at Large of the Board of Directors at Saint Louis Story Stitchers. John is a long-time schoolteacher in the St. Louis Public School District and has degrees in advertising, speech, curriculum, and technology, and a doctorate in educational leadership. He is a coauthor of Images of Modern America: African American St. Louis, Rochelle Caruthers, Director, African American History Initiative, or Shuron Jones, African American History Programming Specialist,  Missouri Historical Society, Missouri History Museum, Library & Research Center and Soldiers Memorial.