The Black Rep And COCA Announce Co-Production Of FOUR LITTLE GIRLS: BIRMINGHAM 1963
The Black Rep and COCA announce that the two longstanding St. Louis organizations will collaborate to produce a student youth production of Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963 by Christina Ham. Performances will be held October 18-20 and 25-27, in the newly opened Staenberg Performance Lab at COCA.
Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963 focuses on the "positive lives" of the four girls who were killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama - Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Cynthia D. Morris Wesley, and Addie Mae Collins. It highlights their dreams, goals and aspirations against the backdrop of the civil rights movement in 1963.
Renowned St. Louis theatre artist Jacqueline Thompson is the show's Director, and Ron Himes, The Black Rep's Founder and Producing Director, and Jennifer Wintzer, COCA's Artistic Director of Theatre, are Co- Producers. The rest of the creative team includes music direction by Tre'von Griffith, movement direction by Jamie McKittrick, scenic design by Kendrick Lawson-Knight, lighting design by Jayson M. Lawshee, costumes by Claudia Brownlee, and sound design by Kareem Deanes. Carl Overly, Jr. is the stage manager and intern supervisor.
"This play's themes are devastatingly still relevant today," said Himes. "These talented young actors have their work cut out for them, but just as young people raised their voices during the Civil Rights movement these young actors will raise their voices in this production."
Through story and song, the play shines a light on the girls' dreams, their times with family and friends, and the trials and tribulations they faced as children living in a divided and segregationist city. A full chorus sets the tone with spirituals and anthems of the Civil Rights Movement such as "Amazing Grace," "Oh, Freedom," and "Woke Up This Morning." The play acknowledges their death, but asks the audience to engage with their lives and who they might have become.
The production will also serve as a live training ground for students participating in the new St. Louis Tech Theatre Workforce Collaborative, a robust multi-year partnership between The Black Rep, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater St. Louis, and COCA, designed to inspire interest in technical theatre careers. The three organizations are building upon decades of experience in creating youth development programs of the highest quality to create the program. This program is a part of the Audience (R)Evolution: Cohort Grants program, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and administered by Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the professional not-for-profit American theatre, with start-up funding support from Region's Bank.
"After just a few months in my role at COCA, it's very exciting to see this multi-faceted collaboration come to fruition," said Wintzer. "I think this production will be the first of many amazing opportunities for young performers and technical theatre artists to work with one of the best professional theatres in the country, in The Black Rep, while furthering their training at COCA."