Hattiloo Plays

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Maya Angelou said during an interview, “We have some impulse to explain who we are... There’s something, which impels us to show our inner-souls.” Hattiloo presents plays that fulfill this human need by revealing the ‘inner-soul’ of the Black community. Our plays are for some people a means of self-examination; and for others they are eye-openers.

This season, we open with In the Heights, a musical that presents the ‘inner-soul’ of Caribbean immigrants and their children. The Brother/Sister Plays will show us the ‘inner soul’ a black community and its African origins. Free Man of Color teaches us about the ‘inner-soul’ of the abolitionist movement. Radio Golf and my own play If Scrooge was a Brother will illustrate the ‘inner-soul’ of successful Blacks. And we’ll celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Wiz, which epitomizes the ‘inner-soul’ of the creative Black community.


Season 11 Plays

 

TAKE THE SOUL TRAIN TO CHRISTMAS

Written & directed by Ekundayo Bandele
at Cannon Center
December 17 at 3p & 7p
December 18 at 3p

Having to write research-papers about how Black people celebrated Christmas throughout history, Granddad, a former Pullman Porter, ushers his granddaughter and two of her friends back through time on a magical steam engine called ‘The Soul Train’. Starting their journey on a Christmas day during slavery, they hear old spirituals and watch African dancing as they learn about the North Star. During the Harlem Renaissance they find Langston Hughes and Claude McKay reciting their Christmas poems while dancers perform the Lindy Hop to jazz. In the 1950s, after being moved by Stevie Wonder's Civil Rights song 'Someday at Christmas,' they enter the 70s with songs and dances from the Jackson 5. And just before they return home, they’re mesmerized by Christmas rap and break-dancing. This musical extravaganza, presented on one of Memphis' largest stages, is sure to light your Holiday spirit.

BLUEPRINTS TO FREEDOM: AN ODE TO BAYARD RUSTIN (Play)

Written by Michael Benjamin Washington
January 20 - February 12, 2017

Set during the sweltering political and racial heat of 1963, Bayard Rustin - an openly gay, Black proponent of non-violent civil disobedience who was jailed several times for refusal to register for the World War II draft and for homosexuality - is assigned to orchestrate an unprecedented march for jobs and freedom. Exiled from the Civil Rights movement by both internal and external forces, Rustin grapples with his last chance for professional restoration and spiritual redemption as he masterminds 'a tribute to the ancestors' exactly one century after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

CROWNS THE GOSPEL MUSICAL (Musical)

Written by Regina Taylor
March 10 - April 2, 2017

A moving and celebratory musical in which church hats become a springboard for an exploration of Black history and identity as seen through the eyes of a young Black woman who has come down South to stay with her aunt after her brother is killed in Brooklyn. Hats are everywhere, in exquisite variety, and the characters use the hats to tell tales concerning everything from the etiquette of hats to their historical and contemporary social functioning. There is a hat for every occasion, from flirting to churchgoing to funerals to baptisms, and the tradition of hats is traced back to African rituals and slavery and forward to the New Testament and current fashion.

GEM OF THE OCEAN (Classic)

Written by August Wilson
April 28 - May 14, 2017

August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle (a series of ten plays each set in a different decade) begins with Gem of the Ocean, which takes place in 1904 in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The play unfolds in the home of Aunt Ester, a 285-year-old wise woman. Citizen Barlow, a man who has fled from Alabama after indirectly causing another man’s death, has come to Aunt Ester’s because of the tales he has heard of her soul-cleansing powers. When an incident in the town causes the death of Solly, a former slave and conductor of the Underground Railroad, we see Citizen step up to continue Solly’s legacy, having discovered the importance of history and freedom.

AIDA (Musical)

Music by Elton John
Lyrics by Tim Rice
Book by Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls, and David Henry Hwang
June 9 - July 2, 2017

Winner of four 2000 Tony Awards, an enslaved Nubian princess, Aida, finds her heart entangled with Radames, an Egyptian soldier who is engaged to the Pharaoh's daughter, Amneris. As their forbidden love blossoms, Aida is forced to weigh her heart against the responsibility she faces as leader of her people. Aida and Radames's love for one another becomes a shining example of true devotion that ultimately transcends the vast cultural differences between their warring nations, heralding a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity.


Past Season 11 Plays

THE DEVIL'S MUSIC: THE LIFE AND BLUES OF BESSIE SMITH (Musical)

Written by Angelo Parra
Musical arrangements by Miche Braden
Conceived by Joe Brancato
August 12 - September 4, 2016

A powerful musical that dramatizes the turbulent story of the legendary “Empress of the Blues,” whose life was as large and as outrageous as her talent. The musical re-imagines Bessie’s final electrifying evening after she and her band are turned away by a whites-only theatre. It all takes place in 1937 in a Memphis “buffet flat,” where the partying, laughter, and bawdiness all come together to deliver an entertaining, unforgettable, and surprisingly touching evening. The Devil’s Music explodes with best of the songs that Bessie Smith made famous, including “I Ain’t Got Nobody,” “St. Louis Blues,” “Baby Doll,” and “Tain’t Nobody’s Bizness If I Do.”

Iola's Southern Fields

 


 

MR. RICKEY CALLS A MEETING (Play)

Written by Ed Schmidt
September 23 - October 16, 2016

On a spring day in 1947, Branch Rickey, the powerful General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, summons heavy weight champion, Joe Louis, tap star Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson and actor Paul Robeson to his hotel room in Manhattan. Rickey wants their support when he taps Jackie Robinson to be the Major League's first black ball player. But a powerful struggle ensues when the eloquent Robeson raises questions about Rickey's motivations to integrate white baseball.

THE HOUSE THAT WILL NOT STAND (Play)

Written by Marcus Gardley
October 28 - November 20, 2016

Set in New Orleans in 1836 after a long period of French rule that permitted common-law marriages between free women of color and white men. If the men died, the women could inherit grand houses and dazzling fortunes. Unfortunately, when Beartrice Albans’ man passes away, his legal white wife is waiting to steal her house and her daughters’ dowries. Two daughters, Agnés and Odette, long for romance. Agnés is close to becoming an old maid, and Odette has a dark complexion that is not favored by the status quo. The other, Maude Lynn yearns only for the Lord. When a handsome bachelor comes calling, a family secret is revealed, and the foundation of Beatrice’s household is rocked to its core.


 

 

NOW PLAYING

TAKE THE SOUL TRAIN TO CHRISTMAS

December 17 - 18, 2016

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE

Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays: 7:30p
Saturday Matinees: 2p
Sunday Matinees 3p
No late seating. Plays run 4 - 5 weeks.


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“I'm one of many who have laughed to cramps, and shed tears of pride here... and that's why it's my Hattiloo.”

-Kirk Whalum, musician
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