The Westport Country Playhouse is now presenting on stage the drama “From the Mississippi Delta”. This tale is based on the true life story of the author, Endesha Ida Mae Holland, Ph.D. It follows her incredible struggles from a poor black girl living in segregated Mississippi in the 1950s to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, to her relocation to Minnesota where she attends college and graduate school. It is a tale of the human spirit and the ability to finally overcome the seemingly impossible challenges of poverty and a cruel racist society. The play was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and has been produced in theaters across the country including Off-Broadway.
There are three actors in the play, all who play multiple roles. The main characters are the mother and daughter, with the third actor also taking on the role as narrator. They weave the true story of the author and her family. The main character, Phelia is inspired by her mother Ida (also called Aint Baby), to work hard and strive for a better life. Her mother has left the long days of the cotton fields behind as has become a midwife in her rural community. Her talents and dedication earn her the name, “Second Doctor Lady”. She owns her own modest home and rents out rooms to support her children. The play turns dark when her daughter, Phelia at age 11 is raped by a local white man. Soon Phelia is caught up the seediness of a local carnival and becomes a prostitute at age 12. She eventually will drop out of school.
Fate will change the life of young Phelia when she meets with a civil rights group that comes to town, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. They convince her to join their movement . Her mother is against her involvement, and in time their house is firebombed. Her mother, Aint Baby perishes is the fire which is blamed on Klansmen. Despite this tragedy, Phelia struggles onward and we follow her remarkable journey as she moves north to Minnesota and attends college. It is an incredible story of the human spirit that will remind you of the struggles so many have endured on the road to equality. The play has all the elements of a compelling drama: struggle, tragedy, hope, inspiration and finally redemption.
Westport Country Playhouse will stage from October 18 – 30th. So make plans to see this fascinating drama.
The three-member cast includes Claudia Logan as Woman 1. She is from Detroit, a graduate of SUNY Purchase, and now lives in Brooklyn. Credits include Westport Country Playhouse’s “Don Juan” (2019), Dallas Theater Center’s “Penny Candy,” HBO’s “Random Acts of Flyness” and “The Deuce,” and Netflix’s “Tales of the City.” Tameishia Peterson portrays Woman 2. Born in Dayton and raised in Memphis, she is a graduate of The Ohio State University, Michael Howard Studios, and Fiasco Conservatory. She now lives in New York. Credits include Starz’s ““Power Book II: Ghost,” Hulu’s “WuTang: An American Saga,” and Netflix’s “The Perfect Find.” Erin Margaret Pettigrew plays Woman 3. She is a first generation Los Angeles native after having roots in Belize and the American South. Her artist-journey has been shaped with many communities and creators such as Manhattan Theatre Club, Page 73 Productions, JAG Productions, and more, while facilitating and learning alongside institutions such as UCSB, NYU, and CUNY.
Playwright Endesha Ida Mae Holland, Ph.D. was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. During the 1940s and 1950s, Greenwood was an impoverished Delta community where Black people lived in fear of their lives. It is her life story that is the basis for this play.
Goldie E. Patrick. is the director of this production. The Detroit native is an proud alumna of Howard University where she is currently a professor of hip-hop theater. Based in New York City, for over 20 years she has passionately worked in and built artistic collaborations in Black theater as a playwright, director, and producer.
The creative team includes Jason Ardizzone-West, scenic design; Heidi Hanson, costume design; John Alexander, lighting design; Michael Keck, sound design; Ann James, intimacy coach; Dawn-Elin Fraser, voice and speech coach; Sean Sanford, props supervisor; Melissa Sparks, production stage manager; and Tré Wheeler, assistant stage manager.
The play is recommended for age 15 and up. Running time is approximately 90 minutes with one intermission. For the Playhouse’s 2022 season only, plays are consolidated to a two-week performance schedule instead of the usual three-week run. Please support great local theater, and come see professional performance at the Westport Country Playhouse.
Westport Country Playhouse
25 Powers Court Westport Ct
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