Monday, March 14, 2016
Consider that this is all set right after the infamous 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama. And Nina Simone isn't Ham's first exploration into the aftermath and meaning of this violent event. Her play Four Little Girls, commissioned by Saint Paul's own SteppingStone Theatre for Youth Development in 2009, centered around the four young black girls killed in the bombing and their dreams about their future. These four girls are referred to often in Ham's script and their presence was palpable throughout the performance. In a 2016 world where violent acts occur with frightening regularity, my tears fell down hot and angry that not enough has changed. And we still have to remind the media, the government, and the public that #BlackWomensLivesMatter. Too slow, as Nina Simone might say.
"I think I was hoping to make sense of this tragedy so that I wouldn't have to do it alone." —Nina Simone from "Nina Simone: Four Women"
“Music can’t just be about the art...it has to be an expression of the good, bad, and ugly in life.” —Nina Simone from "Nina Simone: Four Women"
I don't often give standing ovations at theatrical performances, because then when I do see something unbelievable outstanding, how can I show my appreciation and desire for similar work? I stood with the rest of the audience at yesterday's matinee performance and I don't think I've ever meant it more enthusiastically. I recommend clearing your schedule and getting your tickets in advance, because this is a performance where the artistry and the story will stick with you.
Nina Simone is performed on the new stage at Park Square, the Andy Boss Thrust, in the basement of the historic Hamm Building that is also home to the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. It is a fitting coincidence since from a young age Ms. Simone trained to be a classical pianist and adored the work of Johann Sebastian Bach. Until yesterday I had never experienced a play at Park Square Theatre, so I was excited to try this venue out for myself. I was pleased with the intimate u-shaped audience configuration and I found the seats to be super comfortable and they even had beverage holders.
The lobby was spacious and included a concession stand, show related art, and a timeline surrounding the events of the play. You can get a more comprehensive behind the scenes look at the rehearsal process for Nina Simone from dramaturg Gina Musto on her blog, The Room Where it Happens.
There will be another chance for you see to Ham's historical fiction come to life on stage: Scapegoat premiers at Pillsbury House Theatre in May. Every single performance of Scapegoat will have pay what you want pricing.
Tickets prices are $40 and $60. Discounts are available for seniors, college students, those under age 30, and groups.
Best Ticket Deal: "Pay What You Will Wednesday"
Use code: P15 for $15 tickets
3/16 at 7:30PM
3/17 at 11:30AM and 7:30PM
3/18 at 7:30PM
3/19 at 2:00PM and 7:30PM
3/20 at 2:00PM
3/22 at 10:00AM
3/23 at 7:30PM
3/24 at 2:00PM and 7:30PM
3/25 at 7:30PM
3/26 at 2:00PM and 7:30PM