Theatre concert celebrates African-American history Feb. 8

“Ain’t I a Woman!” celebrates Black History Month by honoring the lives of four African-American women who fought for civil rights in the 20th century. The chamber music theater concert will be performed in the Nazarian Center’s Sapinsley Hall on Feb. 8 at 7 p.m.

The Core Ensemble

The concert will be performed by The Core Ensemble, a group known for its chamber music theatre, a contemporary art form that combines narrative, theatre and chamber music.

“Ain’t I a Woman!” is the latest in a series of multicultural and feminist performance pieces produced by The Core Ensemble, which performs throughout the United States during Black History and Women’s History Month.

Shinnerrie Jackson
The text chosen for the concert draws on choices and decisions in the lives of Zora Neale Hurston, who was a chronicler of African-American folklore; Clementine Hunters, a progressive artist; Fannie Lou Hamer, a fervent civil rights advocate; and Sojourner Truth, a fiery public speaker. Actress Shinnerrie Jackson will portray all four women.

The script demonstrates how each overcame personal or political challenges and created social change. Truth for example, became a speaker for black freedom and women’s rights – to white audiences.

The concert is named after a famous speech Truth delivered in 1851 to a Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, titled “Ain’t I a Woman.”

The Core Ensemble – Katie Schlaikjer on cello, Hugh Hinton on piano, and Michael Parola on percussion – will perform a musical score drawn from the spiritual music of the Deep South, including jazz, blues and contemporary concert music by early African-American composers. The concert was written by Kim Hines and directed by Akin Babatunde.

The Core Ensemble has had residencies at Harvard University, the University of Texas at Austin, California State University, the Oberlin Conservatory and the University of Oregon. Their international touring has taken them from Moscow, Russia, to Brisbane, Australia, and to international music festivals, such as the Contrasts International Contemporary Music Festival in L’viv, Ukraine.

General admission for the concert “Ain’t I a Woman!” is $10. Purchase tickets in advance with Visa or MasterCard by calling (401) 456-8144 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays or alternatively tickets will be on sale at the box office in the lobby of Sapinsley Hall in the Nazarian center, which opens for sales two hours before the performance starts.