Tapestry Theatre Company Having our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First One Hundred YearsBy Laura & Mike Clark • Feb 19th, 2007 • Category: Reviews
Listen to our review of Tapestry Theatre and their production of Having our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First One Hundred Years [MP3 4:46 1.4MB].
Laura: This weekend we saw Tapestry Theatre and their production of Having our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First One Hundred Years in Alexandria, Virginia.
Mike: Having Our Say is a play written by Emily Mann. It was adapted from the book by Sarah Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth. This story deals with the trials and tribulations that the sisters faced during their century of life.
Laura: I thought it was an interesting show. There were just two people, Sadie Delany and Bessie Delany. They talked for two hours or so about their life and upbringing. Their parents and grandparents and the history of America and all that went on with racial segregation and discrimination and that kind of thing. I thought it was an interesting show.
Mike: The show opened with the sisters inviting you into their home so you could sit down at the table and just chat with them. That’s what the whole thing felt like. They moved around the two rooms of the house, the kitchen and the living room area. They talked out to the audience and made eye contact. It felt like a chat one on one. It was a very nice conversation.
Laura: The oldest Delany sister was Sadie Delany played by Lolita-Marie. She was 103 years old, I thought very good for her age. She was the calmer of the two sisters. A little more laid back, not quite as feisty or firey.
Mike: And Dr. Bessie Delany was played by Rhonda Gayle Carney. She was the more outspoken, less reserved sister. The two of them got along really well as if they were sisters. I liked how she got a little feisty when she was telling some of her stories. She seemed to be a little more melancholy about some of the things, tough. Other than when they were talking about their mother’s death, she was a little more in tune with her emotions and how things impacted her. She was easily able to share with what had happened to her.
Laura: The set for Having our Say was a simple set, but very detailed. It was interesting. The sisters did talk about the fact that there was no phone. They did things the old fashioned way by writing letters. The younger sister, Bessie did have tabs on everyone in the building. She knew what was going on. She was kind of her own neighborhood watch program. I liked how the two areas were very detailed and looked like a living room in a 1960’s home.
Mike: At several points in the show the ladies would share photos from their photo albums. The way they did that was on the back wall of the kitchen and the back wall of the living room were two screens that had a scene set such as the window from the kitchen, but then they would change to show the pictures they were talking about. That was actually quite effective. The pictures were of New York City in the 1920’s and 1930’s. They went on up through the 1950’s and 60’s with some photographs. I liked how that was used to share the photographs with the audience.
Laura: The Friday night performance benefitted the Alexandria Black History Museum. Their current exhibition is From Slavery to Freedom, Africans in the Americas. They do have a website if you would like to learn more about it. www.alexblackhistory.org
Mike: One of the awkward things during the second act was the Delany sisters were sharing about their struggles during the Civil Rights movement. They started singing one of the protest songs. People in the audience stood up and started singing along. I didn’t know the song so that was a little awkward. I didn’t want to be rude and stay sitting, but I didn’t want to stand and not know the words. That was a little weird.
I don’t know enough about Black History and about the struggles of the civil rights movement. I know broad pieces of it, but I don’t know everything that went on. That’s one reason shows like this are very important to share. It’s also a reason why we should be talking with our grandparents and our great grandparents if they’re still around. Talk about what happened back then. Our family’s lives, our friend’s family’s lives are very important. We need to not forget the history that has helped shape this country.
Laura: Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years is playing February 16th through March 4th. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 3 at the Lee Center in Alexandria Virginia.
Mike: And now, on with the show.
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Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.