Painted Bride is presenting important, critical theater with its upcoming “Souls of Black Folk III: The Sisters Are Alright,” an adaptation of Tamara Winfrey Harris’ book “The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America.” The 60-minute interactive theatrical journey stars Anita Holland of InterAct Theater and Applied Mechanics notoriety. She leads a group of artists focusing on race in a new way. Painted Bride’s latest installment of the annual “Souls of Black Folk” is part of this year’s Bridal Salon series.
“The Bridal Salon has always attracted mostly women artists of color,” says LaNeshe Miller-White, Painted Bride’s marketing manager and a participant in the series. “This year, we were intentional about picking a book that would speak to the experience of black women.” “The Sisters Are Alright” exposes anti-black-woman propaganda and shows how real black women are pushing back against distorted cartoon versions of themselves.
In an article Harris wrote for Bitch Magazine in 2012, she asserts that “the image of black female dignity is routinely attacked by a 24/7 media-industrial complex that serves up a steady stream of caricature. Scripts featuring fully formed black female roles may be difficult to find, but the exploding popularity of unscripted television has placed an increasing number of stereotypical black female characters in the public eye — characters presumed to represent ‘real’ black womanhood.” She backed up the statement using Halle Berry’s controversial role in “Monster Ball” to more recently comparing the criticism Erykah Badu faced for having had her third child with a third father and the praise Beyonce received for having started a family in a more “traditional” way. These examples only scratch the surface of a deeply embedded and ineptly treated wound.
Harris’ book and the performance adapted by Painted Bride is a resource and a reflection of progression for black women in spite their oppression. “Black women have been on the front lines of many a revolution,” Harris continues in her article. “A battle that opens the door for all people — domestic workers and duchesses, the chaste and the promiscuous, the conventional and the daring — to be seen as valuable, to be seen as respectable, is a fight well worth having.”
The performance kicks off at Painted Bride Art Center for one night only on June 8 at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale now for $10. Visit paintedbride.org for more details.