Jazz great Charlie "Bird" Parker at center of play at Gettysburg College April 7-10

An underground classic play in the style of the Black Arts Movement will be performed April 7, 8, 9 and 10 at Gettysburg College.

Playwright Aishah Rahman will be on campus to give a talk, interact with students, and attend performances of her play Unfinished Women Cry in No Man's Land while a Bird Dies in a Gilded Cage, which was originally produced at the New York Shakespeare Festival.

Performances, featuring music composed and performed by Sunderman Conservatory Prof. Paul Austerlitz, will take place on the Kline Theatre stage inside Brua Hall near North Washington and Water streets.

Performances, directed by theatre arts Prof. Susan Russell, will begin at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 7 and Friday, April 8; 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 9; and 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 10. There will be no performance on Monday, April 11. The play runs about 75 minutes.

Admission is free of charge but reservations are recommended for Friday and Saturday performances. For reservations, call 717-337-6060.

The playwright will deliver a free public talk Friday, April 8 at 4 p.m.in the Kline Theatre, cosponsored by Gettysburg College's Africana Studies Program and Intercultural Resource Center.


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Rahman and this production are the subject of a documentary, "Unfinished Women: Why An Actor Prepares," being completed as a senior capstone project by a cast member, theatre major Danielle Nevora Coleman '11.

The play juxtaposes two stories that happen on a single day in 1955. The spirited teenagers in the Hide-a-Wee Home for Unwed Mothers (the "unfinished women") must decide whether or not to keep their babies on this, the last day in the life of the brilliant jazz saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker, who is fading away in the plush boudoir of his wealthy European patroness. The Bird is trapped in lost dreams of the past, while the young women look to the possibilities of the future. Mixing poetry and live music into a rich tapestry of longing and love, this play possesses a rare and haunting lyricism not soon forgotten.

Rahman is a professor of creative writing at Brown University and avant-garde surrealistic playwright whose works are performed mostly at small theaters and on college campuses. A native of New York City, Rahman (born Virginia Hughes) has traveled and worked in Africa and Latin America. While fictionalizing the lives of important historical figures, Rahman creates a surreal atmosphere by emphasizing the unexpected and the non-rational, and by exposing the fetishes and subconscious desires of her characters. She has been compared to award-winning playwrights August Wilson and Eugene O'Neill, and she cites Adrienne Kennedy, Amiri Baraka, Sam Shephard, Federico Garcia Lorca, and Bertolt Brecht as her literary influences.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college, which enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students, is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Contact: Jim Hale, senior staff writer

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Posted: Mon, 4 Apr 2011


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