FOUR LITTLE GIRLS: Birmingham 1963

By: Christina Ham

a national simultaneous viewing and discussion event

 Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Kennedy Center, Project1VOICE and Howard University, in cooperation with Duke Ellington School of the Arts and African Continuum Theatre Company present a free, staged reading of the play FOUR LITTLE GIRLS: Birmingham 1963 on September 15, 2013 at 6 p.m. in the Kennedy Center Family Theater.  Written by Christina Ham and directed by Tony Award® winning actress Phylicia Rashad, the reading commemorates the precise 50th anniversary of the bombing that took the lives of four young girls at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.  This free event is part of the Kennedy Center’s daily, free Millennium Stage series and will be broadcast live on the Center’s website at kennedy-center.org/programs/millennium.

This reading is part of Project1VOICE’s nationwide, simultaneous event of staged readings commemorating this seminal event which helped to galvanize the American civil rights movement only weeks after the historic March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.  The readings will feature a multi-generational casts of national and local theater, television and film actors.  For a full list of locations across the country, please visit www.project1voice.org.

FOUR LITTLE GIRLS: Birmingham 1963 is a theater for young audiences play by Christina Ham. It takes a look at what every child imagines, what they want to be when they grow up. And the four little girls– Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson–were no exception. This play dares to examine what it’s like to be a child in the racially segregated South during the civil rights movement.

FOUR LITTLE GIRLS: Birmingham 1963 stages reading will use an ethnically-diverse cast, ages 11-35, for the national presentations. The play was originally commissioned and produced at the SteppingStone Theatre in Saint Paul, Minnesota.  In February 2013, UAB’s ArtPlay, the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center education and outreach initiative of the University of Alabama in Birmingham, conducted a workshop of FOUR LITTLE GIRLS: Birmingham 1963 that explored the best way to replicate the Project1VOICE staged readings and supplementary activities in communities across the United States.

Nationwide viewings parties of the Kennedy Center presentation are planned.  Host venues can be places of worship of all religions and denominations, schools, colleges, universities, museums, homes, offices, as well as other gathering places.  Some participating venues will view the performance and hold a roundtable discussion immediately following. Subject to availability, Project1VOICE will provide each participating host venue with a kit containing artwork/templates to be used for marketing the event, an event agenda and discussion guide. There will be no cost for participating host venues, but each venue will be required to provide its own audio/visual equipment.

These four innocent and beautiful girls, who were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously, in May of this year, represent a powerful symbol of our quest for freedom and equality in America. The underlying theme of this multi-generational event is our connection to the past and what that connection means to us, both collectively and individually. It is about how that knowledge allows us to move through life—propelling us forward and how that lack of knowledge hinders us.

This event is designed as an opportunity for us to embrace our American history—though painful—and be able to put into context the tragic loss of life that hate and senseless violence can engender, using the transformative power of the arts as the catalyst.

The Millennium Stage broadcast of this event is FREE. This event is in addition to live simultaneously staged readings produced in select cities around the country on September 15, 2013. Please visit www.project1voice.org  to find local live staged reading venue listings and admission price where applicable and available. Contact Erich McMillan-McCall at info@project1voice.org for additional information.

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About joewilson

Joe is the current website administrator for KCACTF Region IV. His day job is ATD and head of sound for Indian River State College's Performing Arts department in Fort Pierce, FL.