Production Written by Christina Ham and Directed by Phylicia Rashad
WASHINGTON (July 23, 2013) – Howard University and The Kennedy Center, Project1Voice, in conjunction with Duke Ellington School of the Arts and African Continuum Theatre Company, present a free, staged reading of the play FOUR LITTLE GIRLS: Birmingham 1963 on Sept. 15, 2013 at 6 p.m. in the Family Theater, located within the Kennedy Center. Tickets for the general public will be distributed on a first come, first served basis in the Hall of States beginning at 5 p.m. on the day of the event. Those patrons who are not able to secure a ticket to the Family Theater will be directed to watch the simulcast in the Grand Foyer.
Written by playwright Christina Ham and directed by Tony Award®-winning actress and Howard alumna Phylicia Rashad, the reading commemorates the 50th anniversary of the bombing that took the lives of four young girls at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. The free performance is part of the Kennedy Center’s daily, free Millennium Stage series and will be broadcast live on the Center’s website. Following the reading, there will be a post-performance discussion. Casting will be announced at a later date.
FOUR LITTLE GIRLS: Birmingham 1963 examines the realities of a segregated and politically-charged climate through the life of children during the fight to end racial discrimination and inequality. In the play, the four little girls—Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley, who attended the church share their hopes and dreams about the future against the backdrop of the Movement. Yet, each child’s dreams abruptly end with the world-changing act of hatred on that fateful day of September 15, 1963.
This reading is part of Project1Voice’s nation-wide, simultaneous event of staged readings commemorating this seminal event in American history, which helped to galvanize the American Civil Rights Movement only weeks after the historic March on Washington where Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The readings will feature a multi-generational cast of national and local theater, television, and film actors. For a full list of locations across the country, please visit www.project1voice.org.
Commissioned and originally produced by SteppingStone Theatre, FOUR LITTLE GIRLS: Birmingham 1963 examines the lives of Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and, Cynthia Wesley. The production delves into their hopes and dreams about “what they want to be when they grow up,” against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement. While Denise dreams of becoming a doctor, Carole looks forward to the dress she will one day wear at the cotillion, Cynthia imagines her life as a mathematics professor at the local university, and Addie Mae envisions a life as a professional baseball player.
Christina Ham’s plays have been developed both nationally and internationally with the Center Theater Group, The Goodman Theater, The Guthrie Theater, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Penumbra Theatre Company, Summer Play Festival/Theatre Row, and SteppingStone Theatre, among others. Some of Ham’s credits include Crash Test Dummies (Red Eye Theatre); Ruby!: The Story of Ruby Bridges (SteppingStone Theatre); and a 2006 MacDowell Residency. Her awards include a Jerome Fellowship and two McKnight Advancement Grant awards from the Playwrights’ Center, and the Marianne Murphy Women & Philanthropy Award in Playwriting. Her feature-length screenplay, Booker, was a finalist for Tribeca Film Institute’s All Access program. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California and has a MFA in playwriting from the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television. She is a core member of the Playwrights’ Center, a member playwright of the Workhaus Collective, and of the Dramatists Guild of America.
Tony Award® winner Phylicia Rashad made her directorial debut at the helm of the Seattle Repertory Theatre production of August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean. Her Broadway credits include August: Osage County, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Gem of the Ocean (Tony Award® nomination), A Raisin in the Sun, (Tony Award® /Drama Desk Award for Best Actress in a Play), Blue, Jelly’s Last Jam, Into the Woods, Dreamgirls, The Wiz, and Ain’t Supposed To Die A Natural Death. She was nominated for an Emmy Award and won an NAACP Image Award for her television performance in A Raisin in the Sun. She is known to television audiences for her role as Claire Huxtable on The Cosby Show and as Ruth Lucas on the CBS sitcom Cosby—two roles which earned her NAACP Image Awards for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. Currently, Rashad is directing August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.
Project1Voice is a not-for-profit performing arts service organization founded by New York-based actor/producer Erich McMillan-McCall to nurture, promote, strengthen, and preserve the legacy and tradition of African American theater and playwrights. Established in response to the severe economic downturn of 2008 that had a profoundly devastating impact upon African American theaters across the country, Project1Voice focuses on providing solutions for sustainability and long-term institutional growth with programs that educate, enlighten, and entertain. Project1Voicestrives to preserve the legacy of African American theater and cultivate future generations of artists and arts patrons. For more information about Project1Voice visit www.project1voice.org.
ABOUT THE KENNEDY CENTER MILLENNIUM STAGE
The Kennedy Center is the only U.S. performing arts institution that presents a free performance 365 days a year. Created in 1997 and underwritten by James A. Johnson and Maxine Isaacs, the Millennium Stage features a broad spectrum of performing arts each day at 6 p.m. The Millennium Stage helps fulfill the Center’s mission of making the performing arts accessible to everyone. In the past 15 years, more than 3 million visitors have seen 6,000 groups with performances as varied as jazz, ballet, storytelling, popular music, modern dance, opera, choral music, tap dance, theater, chamber music, symphonic music, puppetry, stand-up comedy, and cabaret. Of the more than 43,000 performers who have appeared on the Millennium Stage, approximately 25,000 have been Washington-area artists and more than 4,500 have been international performing artists representing over 50 countries. The Millennium Stage has also hosted artists representing all 50 states, and has presented more than 15,000 artists in their Kennedy Center debuts. Since 1999, performances have been broadcast live over the Internet, and more than 4,430 of these performances have been digitally archived on the Kennedy Center’s website, kennedy-center.org.
The Millennium Stage is brought to you by Target and The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation.
The Millennium Stage was created and underwritten by James A. Johnson and Maxine Isaacs to make the performing arts accessible to everyone in fulfillment of the Kennedy Center's mission to its community and the nation.
Additional funding for the Millennium Stage is provided by Capital One Bank, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, The Isadore and Bertha Gudelsky Family Foundation, Inc., The Meredith Foundation, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Suzy and Bob Pence, Dr. Deborah Rose and Dr. Jan A.J. Stolwijk, U.S. Department of Education, and the Millennium Stage Endowment Fund.
Millennium Stage Endowment Fund - James A. Johnson and Maxine Isaacs, Fannie Mae Foundation, James V. Kimsey, Gilbert† and Jaylee† Mead, Mortgage Bankers Association of America, Anonymous, and other gifts to secure the future of the Millennium Stage.
For more information about the Millennium Stage, please visit http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/millennium/.