A Welcome Resiliency
New York City, affectionately called, ‘The Big Apple’ home of “Big Lights’ and ‘Big Dreams’ is also the home of ‘The Concrete Jungle’ filled with urban flight, race riots, struggling deficits, drug abuse, gang warfare, crime, and poverty. There’s a neighborhood in this great city where crime and gentrification were steady on the rise. As far back as the 60’s people realized that they had to adapt a resiliency in order to survive in the dwellings known as Spanish Harlem or El Barrio called East Harlem in Upper Manhattan which according to New York Post “it is the most dangerous blocks in the city!”
There’s something to be said when your environment can make or break you and in doing so, one can only hope it makes you stronger; especially when you are living in apartments that are filled with capacity, unkempt and repeated targets for firebombing. Those were the living conditions of ‘Beauty’s Daughter’ a woman who had a dream but came to her senses and woke up.
‘Beauty’s Daughter,’ the Obie Award-winning play by Playwright Dael Orlandersmith portrays one woman’s passage through life’s obstacles in an East Harlem neighborhood. Dael is a force to be reckoned with and this talented poet draws her metaphors from the streets with profound lyricism.
Solo performer Wandachristine a theater powerhouse with a unique name, embodied the voices and gestures of 6 different characters. She introduces us to Diane, Papo, Blind Louie, Mary Askew, Anthony, and Beauty. During the course of this play, she gives us a larger than life performance with a powerful take of enthusiastically emotional expression on how each character intertwined with the main character Diane.
Diane navigated us through the remnants of East Harlem and their residency and street corners, touching the very depths of our souls through her poetry and monologues of broken, damaged, unforgettable and memorable dreams. With poignant poems that were brought to life on stage such as Thirteen ‘N’ Bleeding (a girl’s passage to womanhood), Mother Mary’s Chair and other eloquent poetic pieces that freely flowed with lines of formal and free structures; this play was indeed a must see.
A One Woman Dynamo
Wandachristine performance delivered on making you feel the distress of each character with a vigor which made her invisible to where you could solely focus on the individual and become wrapped up in the character that she has personified. She drew you into their backstory so that you can see the genuine emotions that were connected to Diane.
A one woman dynamo, Wandachristine takes us on a journey through this working class neighborhood of want to be, lost and forgotten dreamers by weaving in and out between the characters with a zealous attitude of formation. This takes an amazing skill set to accomplish this type of acting in a solo performance to make it believable and Wandachristine was flawless.
Take for instance ‘Anthony’ a working class Italian, who was a former saxophone player who is very passionate about jazz music and his music idols (Charlie Parker and Miles Davis.) Anthony, a married man who is obsessed with Diane whom he met at a wedding, instantly became intrigued by her beauty and her personality. His love for her is connected with his love for sex which he has lost for his wife.
Then there was Mary Askew, (Brenda’s favorite) character in the play and from our one of one interview we learned is a favorite of Wandachristine as well. This woman of wisdom and inspiration encourages Diane to embrace her God given gifts and to continue to feel what life has to offer so you can stay alive in this world. Rick’s favorite character was Anthony but, he also enjoyed the raw candid portrayal of Blind Louie.
Director Ron OJ Parson guided this one woman show to perfection with ‘the first voice’ with ease and transformation of poignantly funny neuroses into beautifully poetic, monologues. If Ron’s objective was to bring the audience out of their seats and onto the stage with the monologist, in ‘Beauty’s Daughter’ he definitely delivered!
Beauty’s Daughter is definitely an adult play with some mature language and vulgarity; however, we highly recommend that you partake in this extraordinary one woman performance.
To learn more about WandaChristine, click on the link below to listen to our entire audio interview. We will also share each question on our Let’s Play Facebook page.
Cast included: Solo Performer: WandaChristine
American Blues Theater Presents
The Chicago Premiere of
by Dael Orlandersmith
Directed by Ron OJ Parson
Featuring Artistic Affiliate Wandachristine
July 7 – August 5, 2017
Filed under: ChicagoNow