From the Mississippi Delta

Published Friday, September 28th, 2012

Coppin Rep Inaugurates Tribute Season with Return Of 2011 American College Theatre Fringe Festival Production: From the Mississippi Delta

Mississippi DeltaCoppin Repertory Theatre opens its 2012-2013 season with a return engagement of From the Mississippi Delta, a dramatic autobiographical tribute to the late civil rights activist, Dr. Endesha Ida Mae Holland. This play was produced at Coppin last year and evaluated by judges of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. It was selected for presentation and was performed during the 2011-2012 Kennedy Center Fringe Festival at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

This year’s performances run October 5-7, 2012 in the Theatre Lab, on the lower level of the Grace Hill Jacobs Building on the North Avenue side of campus.

From the Mississippi Delta retraces Holland’s impoverished upbringing in segregated Greenwood, Mississippi and her activism during the Civil Rights Movement. Her transformative journey is an uplifting story of struggle and success against incredible odds that took her from abject poverty, to prostitution, to a Ph.D., to success as a playwright.

Partially financed by Oprah Winfrey, From the Mississippi Delta made its Off-Broadway debut in 1991 at the Circle in the Square Downtown.

The Coppin production features five actresses who portray all the characters – young and old, black and white, men and women - and an award-winning director and production team. Christian Harris and Tracie Jiggetts reprise their 2011 roles as Woman Two and Woman Five, respectively, and are joined by newcomers Sierra Upshaw, Mia Giles and Andrea Holdclaw.

Amini Johari-Courts, Professor and Coordinator of the Theatre Program at Coppin, directs the production. Since joining the Coppin faculty in 1981, Courts has established herself as one of Baltimore’s most skilled directors. In 1986, she earned a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship to study in Africa. In 1996, she served as directing intern at Washington’s Arena Stage for Tony-nominated director Marion McClinton, and in 2005, she was named by The Daily Record as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women. Last year, her direction of From the Mississippi Delta resulted in the selection of two Coppin students, Kate Appiah-Kubi and Tierra Strickland, who participated in the Irene Ryan Acting Competition of the Kennedy Center Festival.

The creative team of Mississippi Delta includes scenic designer Kenneth Ellis, who earned a Certificate of Merit in Scene Design during last year’s Kennedy Center competition, lighting designer Allan Sean Weeks, technical director James A. Brown, costumer Lynnette Rodgers and dramaturg Eugenia Collier. Coppin students Felicia Chapple, properties artisan, and Tanya Russell, stage manager, both earned recognition for their work during last year’s competition and are also participating in this year’s production.

The 2012-2013 Tribute Season continues in October, honoring The Men of August Wilson, created and performed in the Arena Playhouse by Lawrence Blackwell and directed by D. Wambui Richardson. In November, Prof. Courts again takes the helm, directing Harriet Jacobs, in tribute to a woman of valor who triumphed over unspeakable obstacles on her journey from slavery to freedom. The season closes with Eubie! The Musical, directed by Hugh Carey, in honor of the life and work of Baltimore’s own Eubie Blake and in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the opening of Johnson Auditorium. Season subscriptions are still available.

For additional information, call the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at (410) 951-3366.