Letters To and From Me is an extraordinary hour of spoken word, story telling, singing, and dancing from the Wild Women Theatre company. The piece explores specifically what it means to be a black woman in America with such bravery and vulnerability, I was awed. But everyone can relate to these stories; it is really a show about being human. Before they started they asked each audience member to write out a short letter to themselves, which they read out during the play.
As the title states, the coat hanger that all of the pieces rest on are letters moving backwards and forwards across time, with their younger selves writing to the elder asking what an orgasm is and whether certain situations will be okay, or older selves writing to younger warning them or praising them.
Farah Lawal Harris co-founded the company, directs this piece, wrote many of the poetry included, and also performs. She has a wonderful stage presence and sense of humor. Some of the other performers also wrote their own material for the piece, along with Pamela Burgess-Jones. They speak of skin color, bodies, sex, relationships, parents, social justice, and more in moments both funny and painful, but all breathtaking in its truthfulness. The poem “Blackness”, quotes a thousand things that we all hear about black women every day and but very few have the courage to say from the stage. Margaux delotte-bennett composed the song they sing about their letters and and wrote “#bringbackourgirls”. Clarissa McKithin is a powerful physical and fearless performer. Amy Mack has a sparkling presence on stage. N’ya Johnson is also great especially during the meetings of the disgruntled black female postal worker union which are meetings of hilarious beauty and the happy black woman beauty pageant-style contest, in which anxiety, depression, grief, control, and suicide all get to speak.
In all, this was a fun, funny, moving and powerful performance by skilled actors and inspiring writers, definitely fringe at its best.
Running Time: 65 minutes, with no intermission.
Letters To and From Me plays through July 25, 2014 at Mountain – Mount Vernon United Methodist Church-900 Massachusetts Avenue, in Washington DC. For performance times and to purchase tickets, visit their Capital Fringe page.