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Having Our Say

a Comedy/Drama
by Emily Mann

COMPANY : Georgia Ensemble Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Georgia Ensemble Theatre and Conservatory [WEBSITE]
ID# 5036

SHOWING : February 16, 2017 - March 05, 2017



103-year-old Sadie and 101-year-old Bessie Delany are preparing dinner in remembrance of their father’s birthday. While they cook, they recount a fascinating series of events and anecdotes drawn from their rich family history and their careers as pioneering African American professional women. As descendants of slaves, they have seen their fair share of turbulent times, and yet they forge into the present, with a little daily yoga to help along the way. "Having Our Say" is our history. It celebrates women and men, African Americans, our country, and the indomitable human spirit.

Miss Sadie Delany Donna Biscoe
Dr. Bessie Delany Brenda Porter
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...After We Learn Our Lines
by playgoer
Monday, February 27, 2017
Emily Mann’s "Having Our Say" nicely translates the real-life story of centenarians Sadie and Bessie Delany to the stage. While there are anecdotes that relate to the hardships faced by "coloreds" throughout the twentieth century, the show is far more a celebration of human life than a litany of racial woes. These were two remarkable women for any race or age.

The casting at Georgia Ensemble seems a bit backwards. Donna Biscoe looks older than Brenda Porter, it’s true, but Ms. Porter has an innate sweetness that works against the sourness of Bessie Delany, while Ms. Biscoe has a bit of bite that tempers the stated sweetness of Sadie Delany. Ms. Biscoe’s portrayal is the more successful, largely because the line bobbles that affect both actresses affect her less.

The script by Emily Mann and the direction of Andrea Frye give the sisters lots of stage business, as they perform lots of distracting food preparation. (Kudos, as usual, to McClare Park for her props.) There’s a lot of movement across the tri-level set, with the functional kitchen in the middle level on stage right and a parlor below and a dining room above on stage left. A fireplace in the dining room draws the eye, and projections of family photos appear above it.

Behind the set (designed by Stephanie Polhemus) an illuminated backdrop shows a couple of clouds in a blue, blue sky, with a horizon line of buildings positioned so low that it seems intended to be seen only from the balcony. Dusty Brown’s lighting occasionally dims the backdrop’s blueness for twilight or night effects, with stars twinkling. Unfortunately, a few of these twinkling stars bleed through as bright blips on the daytime clouds and sky. Not everyone will notice this, but I found it quite distracting.

Emmie Tuttle’s costumes are fine, and the wigs the actresses sport look far better on stage than they do in photos. Kaci Willis’ sound design sets the time periods nicely, although the pre-show music is a bit loud. The production shows the same level of professionalism as is usually seen at Georgia Ensemble.

The story of these remarkable ladies will hold more interest for some than for others. The elderly black woman behind me obviously saw parallels to her own life, as indicated by her frequent comments to her shushing daughter, while I noted a white man near me nodding off in the first act. Extended family stories don’t hold everyone’s attention, but the Delany sisters led lives that both reflect and transcend the constraints of the times they lived in. Only frequent stumbling over lines prevents this production from being more successful. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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