Black Pearl Sings! at Florida Studio Theatre

Arts & Culture

Pictured: Black Pearl Sings! at Florida Studio Theatre. Photo courtesy of FST.

“I love that this project is being produced again today, because we are in such polarizing times. says Kate Alexander, director of Florida Studio Theatre’s Black Pearl Sings!“ It’s wonderful to bring back a piece that takes place in a time that was also very polarizing and racially divided with barriers for women, immigrants and minorities. It just feels right and reminds us that we’re all a part of the same family, the human family.”

This summer’s production marks Alexander’s second run as the director of Black Pearl Sings!, which was originally developed by FST as a part of their 2008 Burdick Reading Series before premiering in the company’s Winter Mainstage Series in April 2009. Now, over a decade later, Black Pearl Sings! is returning to FST’s Keating Theatre from June 28 to July 30. The play, set in 1935 Depression Era Texas, follows the relationship between two women from starkly different backgrounds: Susannah, a Library of Congress musicologist set on finding and recording undocumented slave songs and Pearl, an African-American inmate in a high-security female-prison whose memory holds a large collection of undocumented slave-era music.

“The play tells the story of two women, Susannah and Pearl, who form the unlikeliest of bonds. Susannah is an anomaly of her era, she wants more than what’s expected from her and is trying to make her mark on the world in by part by collecting, what she calls slavery songs, in the vernacular of the time,” says Alexander. “One day when visiting a prison she hears the most amazing singing voice–which happens to be Pearl singing from her jail cell–and so begins an extraordinary relationship between two women in their discovery of their personal power, the importance of heritage and how we all are so deeply connected by our humanity.”

Black Pearl Sings!, June 28 to July 30, Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 North Palm Avenue, Sarasota, 941-366-9000.

Pictured: Black Pearl Sings! at Florida Studio Theatre. Photo courtesy of FST.

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