Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Play authored by alumna tells story of African American women

This weekend, Randolph College is hosting the debut of a play written by an alumna to shed light on the experience of African American women.

From the Valley to the Peak and Still Climbing consists of four monologues representing four generations of African American women, from a newly freed slave in the Civil War era to the modern president of a historically black college. It deals with injustice, domestic violence, education, and feminism.

“I want people to understand that although we may project many differences, we have a lot of similarities, and we go through a lot of the same trials and tribulations,” said Teresa Harris ’80, who wrote the play. “I hope that the audience will understand better what African American women are about.”

Harris said that she developed a love for writing while attending the College, but this is the first play she has written. She undertook the project after Dee Brown, a local playwright, wrote a similar play for Lynchburg’s Black Theatre Ensemble. His play, Climbing the Mountaintop When There is Nowhere Left to Walk, featured monologues from four male African American characters. Brown told Harris that he felt a woman should write a companion play from a female perspective.

Each character in the play presents a unique perspective on issues that African American women faced at different times in history. “Education is emphasized throughout the play. That’s a big part of it,” Harris said. “It also deals with the stereotypes that have plagued the black community ever since slavery.”

The play will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Smith Hall Theatre. The Office of Multicultural Services is hosting the play as part of the College’s Black History Month celebration.

The cast includes two Randolph students—Sonja Cirilo ’15 and Lexus Morton ’16—and an alumna, Leslie King ’06. Taylor Obeng-Amponsah rounds out the cast. Admission is free.

In addition to the four monologues, the performance will include dance routines to help set the stage for the eras represented. Harris said the entire show should last about two hours, including an intermission.

Harris, who works in the Randolph College Office of Student Success, said writing the play has been an emotional journey, but she is excited to see it performed. “I’m eager to see how people will connect with it and relate to it.”