Thought-provoking, probing and deeply personal, The Hair Chronicles, written by Nileah Bell, Mary Nyingi and Michelle Whittaker is based on the real event of the playwrights’ search for a paper topic for a graduate class. Throughout their conversation and great procrastination, the discussion of hair occurs in which the women realize how prevalent hair is as an indicator and dictator of identity in various cultures. From the perspective of women of color (Black, African and Bi-racial(black/Indian), Director Nicole Brewer uses a blend of mixed media and a unique style of blocking that incorporates scenes, moments of asides for private thoughts and the breaking of the fourth wall, in order to invite the audience on the personal and sacred journey of each character.
Ben de Quadros-Wander and Brandon Henderson’s simple yet appropriate set design of a library study room containing one long table with chairs flanked by two small bookcases provides the perfect setting. Actresses Courtney Ferguson (African girl), Te’La Curtis Lee (mixed girl) and Narlyia Sterling. (black girl) use this study room to embark upon the retelling of childhood stories, growing pains, joys and current issues that are associated with hair and its connection to self-worth, pride and identity. The ensemble did a good job portraying these stories and as they continue to connect their own experiences with those of the characters, the impact of their performances will enhance. However, Courtney Ferguson gave an outstanding and profoundly moving performance. Her multi-layered performance allowed us to empathize with her story and draw on our own struggles with identity related to aesthetics. Ms. Ferguson is definitely a powerhouse star on the rise.
While there were some issues with pacing and the need for minor script revisions in order to provide a better flow for stage production, The Hair Chronicles is a piece that has the potential to be a powerful staple in theatre for social change. It is a piece that can push our culture to take a serious look at how aesthetics and beauty shape the mindset and identity of people.
For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.