City and DEMASKUS Theatre’s ‘Fannie: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer’ Opens (1/13/23)
FANNIE: THE MUSIC AND LIFE OF FANNIE LOU HAMER by Cheryl L. West. August Wilson Center, City Theatre, and DEMASKUS. January 13 – 16.
Who was Fannie Lou Hamer? If you know American history or even if you don’t, you may want to see the new show about her. FANNIE: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer re-creates the presence of the woman who was a unique force in the civil rights movements of the 1960s. Hamer, the child of a Black sharecropper family on a Mississippi plantation, grew up at a time when Blacks in the state were strongly discouraged from voting — and from doing much else to get ahead. As an adult she rebelled. Despite having only a primary education in a one-room schoolhouse, Hamer emerged as a startlingly eloquent speaker who’d also burst into gospel songs to inspire others. For her attempts to register Black voters she was arrested, savagely beaten, permanently injured, and shot at. Yet she persisted. Her powerful speech at the 1964 Democratic National Convention galvanized wide attention to the cause of Southern Blacks. She went on to co-found and/or lead projects and groups including the National Women’s Political Caucus.
Now the August Wilson African American Cultural Center teams with City Theatre and DEMASKUS Theater Collective to present FANNIE in Pittsburgh. This play with music, by Cheryl L. West, has been staged in only a few other cities previously. Robin McGee reprises her stellar performance in the title role. 8 p.m. The show on January 16, Martin Luther King Day, is pay-what-you-can. At the Wilson Center, 980 Liberty Ave., Cultural District. (M.V.)