NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

March 6, 2014

Sharing 'A Journey ...'

One-woman show explores African-American history

The Actors Studio of Newburyport is celebrating Women’s History Month with a special production this Saturday.

African-American actress and playwright Kimberly Wilson’s “A Journey ...” is a one-woman show about black women’s history, culture and faith.

Produced, written and performed entirely by Wilson, “A Journey ...” explores the lives of seven women, from 19th-century abolitionist Harriet Tubman to modern-day author and poet Maya Angelou.

Each character — or “spirit,” as Wilson calls them — speaks through Wilson about their individual stories and struggles, and the courage it took to fight against oppression.

“It brings us to a place where we celebrate African-American women and Black History Month, but we also celebrate people of courage and the opportunity to share our stories,” Wilson said. “Women, we are champions for so much. So much of our role of survival and success in our history is understated, the role of women’s contributions. The more we have an opportunity to share it, the more people understand that women are very important.”

The show opens with opulence and fanfare: Wilson is an African queen. Hailing from an unspecified tribe, she begins on a note of pride.

“You know how we African-Americans have been stereotyped,” Wilson said. “Thugs, low-class, not intelligent, stupid, not having a sense of family, a sense of self. ... I wanted to start from a sense of royalty and regality, a sense of family, of home ownership, meaning the homeland.

“Then, how strongly violent, and how you can be raped from your culture — not just raped in your body — raped from your culture and your homeland. And still, here we are, standing, succeeding, generations and generations, not removed but celebrated.”

One message resonates throughout the piece: hope. Despite creating a piece centered around centuries of oppression, violence and slavery, Wilson is optimistic.

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