The Group Rep Company Presents “Unhidden Figures” – A Virtual Play Festival Celebrating African American Women
Now streaming, FREE:
In honour of Black History Month, the Group Rep has created a virtual play festival of fresh new short plays celebrating African American women, with a gorgeous tapestry of disparate stories. All the plays have been written and directed by members of GRT and are performed by actors from all over the world, with a little help from the magic of the internet. Brilliantly, the technology enables cast members to perform with each other live together, from different locations all over the planet….amazing!!!
These incredible stories are beautifully performed. Very simple set ups of course, no audience, no stage, and yet somehow the intimacy of performing in solitude, knowing that anyone, anywhere on the planet, or the universe, can tune in to see you, creates something entirely new. Something wildly uplifting and positive, uniquely made of this pandemic, this sad and difficult situation. The hope is that this kind of spectacular creation inspires and connects and heals. A hope that has been completely realized with this profound and heart-rending selection of voices.
The performances are fabulous, I would expect no less from GRT, but the production quality is also brilliant. From the graphics, to the music, to the wonderful attention to detail, sets, wardrobe, composition. Each play put together with the precision and technicality of a short film, but they become much more than that. Plays in the sense of the magic that only live theatre can provide, as it is recorded as a live performance. But transformative in this form, more than theatre, more than film, it morphs into something closer to a radio play, where actors can allow themselves the calm of anonymity. And yet we see them, as if they are almost unaware of that fact. It’s hard to describe. Poetic, sublime, gorgeous and insanely clever. You really do have to see to believe.
I’ve watched quite a lot of online theatre this past year, as you can probably imagine, and not all of it has been that successful, if I’m honest. It’s a shockingly clumsy venue, the internet, for all its technical abilities it can be unreliable, flat, sad, removed and it doesn’t seem to have got much better over this past year or so. However, this remarkable production is one of the shining lights in the data darkness.
The combination of wonderful stories beautifully told and flawless and inventive technical presentation, “Unhidden Figures” provides the best possible place to honour our African American women’s profound place in Black History Month.
The producers and writers, directors, actors and technical crew have gifted us something special. Indeed something, that without this shut down, could never have even existed. An opportunity to work across time zones and hemispheres, to bring creative people together in spite of the distance between them, to give us funny, heart-breaking, poignant and important stories that remind us we are all ultimately the same, with the same needs and desires, losses and triumphs and hearts.
Bravo yet again to The Group Rep Company and all their members…. I absolutely loved this!!!
The 1 hour, 53 minute show is online indefinitely…..admission is free!!! (donations encouraged)
“Brave Bess” – “Unhidden Figures” L R Juanita Dilia Olivo, Victor D’wayne Little. Image: Katelyn Ann Clark
“Brave Bess” by Denise Downer
1926. Aviator Bessie Coleman, the first African-American female pilot in the U.S., sits for an imagined interview with Robert S. Abbott, editor of the influential African-American newspaper the Chicago Defender.
With: Juanita Dilia Olivo & Victor D’wayne Little
“Surgery and Divorce” – “Unhidden Figures” Keyara Milliner. Image: Victor D’wayne Little, Doug Engalla
“Surgery and Divorce” by
1963. “Raisin in the Sun” playwright/activist Lorraine Hansberry calls her estranged husband shortly after her meeting with the Attorney General of the U. S. to give him some rather significant news.
Directed by Victor D’wayne Little
With: Keyara Milliner & Adam Smith
“Black Bow” – “Unhidden Figures” L R Maria Kress, Tristan Avelina Cunningham. Image: Matthew Guthrie Jr
“Black Bow” by Matthew Guthrie
1965. A lifelong friendship transcends time, place and racial stigma after tragedy occurs.
With: Tristan Cunningham & Maria Kress
“Mary and Sylvia & Hercules“ by Stevie Stern
1981. Mary Wilson, the first African-American zookeeper of the Maryland Zoo, is forced to send two gorillas she raised from infancy to another zoo, but before they go, she joins them in matrimony.
Directed by Stevie Stern
With: Rosibel Mejia
“Piano in the Dark” – “Unhidden Figures” L R Kimberly Green, Landon Beatty. Image: Marie Broderick
“Piano in the Dark” by
1988. As the release date for her highly anticipated new album approaches, singer-songwriter Brenda Russell questions the hype surrounding it. A junior exec at her label helps her avert a crisis of confidence.
Directed by Marie Broderick
With: & Kimberly Green
“Black Flower in the White House” – “Unhidden Figures” L R Michael Gabiano, Maegan McConnell. Image: Tom Lazarus
“Black Flower in the White House” by
2008. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice makes a state visit to Libyan Dictator Muammar Gaddafi who turns out to be her secret admirer. Based on actual events.
Directed by With: & Maegan McConnell
“Class Project” by
2020. A persistent high school English teacher strives to understand why her star student is struggling with her assignments.
Directed by With: &
“Kizzy” – “Unhidden Figures”
“Kizzy: The Real Wonder Woman” by
2021. For her mid-term project, a high school student does a video tribute to her hero: Kizzmekia Corbett, the African American scientist who developed the vaccine for Covid-19. She taps her friends and family to portray family and doctors using all real quotes.
Directed by Disraeli Ellison
With: , , T. Ryan Brennen, , , Peyton Kirkner, Rudy McCollum, Bruce Nehlsen,