Theatre ReviewsTom Williams

A Song for Coretta

By Pearl Cleage

A Song for Coretta
A Song for Coretta

Directed by Sarah Moeller

Produced by Eclipse Theatre Company

At the Greenhouse Theatre

Poignant look at the position of contemporary Africian-American woman fuels A Song for Coretta.

Eclipse Theatre Company presents the  Chicago premiere of Pearl Cleage’s A Song for Coretta. Cleage presents the position of African-American women in the 21st Century through the lives of five women each with a story to tell.

The setting is 2006 outside the Ebenezar Baptist church in Atlanta, Georgia on February 6. There is a long line to get into the funeral of Coretta Scott King. Zora (Niccole Thurman) is a college student bent on producing a documentary about the effect of Mrs King on African-American women. With her audio recorder, she approaches an old lady who patiently waits inline to pay her respects to Mrs. King. Helen (TayLar) tells her story about the two times she actually met Coretta when Helen was a child in the 50’s as the civil rights movement started. Her story was touching.

A SONG FOR CORETTA.EbonyWimbs.KristyJohnson.TayLar.NiccoleThurman

a song for coretta by pearl cleage

Next, Zora encounters Mona Lisa (Kelly Owens)–a homeless street artist from New Orleans, a high school sophomore, Keisha (Kristy Johnson) who finds herself pregnant again and struggles whether or not to have an abortion.  Each of these women has debates with Helen as the generations collide. Lastly, Zora speaks with Gwen (Ebony Wimbs), a soldier back from Iraq with a troubling story of the horrors of war.

Cleage’s drama elucidates the faces that the civil rights movement produced with the emphasis on five women’s perspectives. Mrs. King’s legacy is vividly presented by each of the disparate African-American women. We empathize with each person’s struggles. I only questioned Cleage’s soldier’s story of how she was treated by her fellow soldiers in Iraq. That was a needless enclosure that only diminished from the power of Cleage’s play.

A Song for Coretta is a fine ensemble acting piece that found Kelly Owens and Kristy Johnson doing moving performances. This is a wonderful play that deserves an audience. It is a swiftly paced 90 minute on act.


Tom Williams

Jeff Recommended

At the Greenhouse Theatre, 2257 N Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL, call 773-404-7336,, tickets $10 -$25, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8:30 pm, Sundays at 3:30 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through July 26, 2009

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