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Stained Glass Playhouse commemorates Black History Month with A Woman Called Truth

by Mark Burger

The Stained GlassPlayhouse celebratesBlack History Monthwith its first productionof 2011: SandraFenichel Asher’shistorical drama AWoman Called Truth,which opens Fridayat the Playhouse(4401 Indiana Ave.,Winston-Salem).The story is inspired by the life of SojournerTruth (1797-1883), an abolitionist and earlyproponent of women’s rights. Born into slaveryas Isabella Baumfree, she is perhaps bestknown for her historic “Ain’t I a Woman?”speech, which she delivered at the OhioWomen’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohioin 1851.Jae Campbell makes her Stained GlassPlayhouse debut in the pivotal role ofSojourner Truth, as the play dramatizes herlife from the day she is sold into slavery, hertireless struggle to free herself and her sonfrom the misery of servitude, and her eventualemergence as one of the principal abolitionistsand activists of her time.The play combines Sojourner’s actualwords with real slave songs, spirituals andfolk songs of her era, and has been recognizedand honored by the National Endowmentfor the Arts, the UIPUI Children’s TheatreSymposium and American Alliance forTheatre and Education.Many of the supporting actors play multipleroles: Teanue Vinson, Joyce Allen, DavidWebster, Patrick Ferrara and Melvin MasseyJr.The production is directed by FlonnieAnderson, noted actress and director whoorganized the Community Players Guild, thefirst black community theater in the South,in 1952, which presented such productionsas Ossie Davis’ Purlie Victorious, Rodgers& Hammerstein’sOklahoma! and SouthPacific, LorraineHansberry’s A Raisinin the Sun and manyothers. Andersonwas also the firstblack actress cast bythe Little Theatre ofWinston-Salem in itsproduction of ArthurMiller’s The Crucible.Later, she became thefirst black director of aLittle Theatre productionand has continuedto be a vibrant forcein live theater withher own company,the Flonnie AndersonTheatrical Association(FATA). She has performedher one-womanshow adapted fromThe Autobiographyof Miss Jane Pittman at the Reynolda Houseof American Art in Winston-Salem and othervenues, and she herself portrayed SojournerTruth in the PBS Bicentennial special.A Woman Called Truth is scheduled torun through Feb. 20. Showtimes are 8 p,m.Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays.Admission is $12 (adults) and $10 (seniorcitizens and students with valid ID). For reservations,call 336.499.1010. For more informationabout the Stained Glass Playhouse, call336.661.4949.Twin City Stage, formerly the LittleTheatre of Winston-Salem, serves up mirthand merriment with its latest production,David Bottrell and Jessie Jones’ Southernflavoredfarce Dearly Departed, which opensFriday at the Arts Council Theatre, 610Coliseum Drive in Winston-Salem.The story focuses on the members of theTurpin family, a dysfunctional Southern clanreunited for the funeral of family patriarchBud Turpin, who has unexpectedly keeledover at the kitchen table.What should be a time of reflection andcompassion instead becomes an utter disaster,as old grudges and resentments come boilingto surface, and it’s only a matter of time beforethe Turpins are at each other’s throats — withthe bereaved, bewildered widow (CaroleMidura) caught in the middle.“Almost every family in the South has the‘crazy uncle’ or ‘drama queen’ who showsup at funerals and weddings and puts on ashow,” observes director Gene Johnson, along-time Twin City Stage/Little Theatreveteran. “Dearly Departed has an entire castof ‘crazies’ and the good news is, they’re notrelated to you!”Dearly Departed is scheduled to runthrough Feb. 13. Showtimes are 8 p.m.Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays.Tickets are $22 (adults), $20 (senior citizens),and $18 (students with valid ID). Reservationsare suggested. There will be a special champagnereception prior to the opening-nightperformance, beginning at 7 p.m. Feb. 4.For tickets or more information, call336.725.4001 or visit the official Twin CityStage website: www.twincitystage.org.

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