Arena Stage The Mead Center for American Theater MY ACCOUNT

Nina Simone: Four Women


November 10 — December 24, 2017

By Christina Ham
Directed by Timothy Douglas

Kreeger Theater

Velvet-throated songstress Nina Simone hypnotized audiences with her signature renditions of standards from the American songbook. But on September 15, 1963, a devastating explosion in Birmingham, Alabama rocked our entire nation to the core, and from the memory of the four little girls that were lost in this unimaginable tragedy came “Four Women” — along with Simone’s other activist anthems like “Mississippi Goddam,” “Old Jim Crow” and “To Be Young, Gifted and Black.” Through storytelling and song, Nina Simone: Four Women reveals how this iconic chanteuse found her true voice — and how the “High Priestess of Soul” helped define the sound of the Civil Rights Movement.

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Harriett D. Foy (Nina Simone) in Nina Simone: Four Women, running November 10-December 24, 2017 at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

(L to R) Toni L. Martin (Sephronia), Harriett D. Foy (Nina Simone), Felicia Curry (Sweet Thing) and Theresa Cunningham (Sarah) in Nina Simone: Four Women, running November 10-December 24, 2017 at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Theresa Cunningham (Sarah) in Nina Simone: Four Women, running November 10-December 24, 2017 at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

(L to R) Toni L. Martin (Sephronia), Harriett D. Foy (Nina Simone) and Felicia Curry (Sweet Thing) in Nina Simone: Four Women, running November 10-December 24, 2017 at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

(L to R) Toni L. Martin (Sephronia) and Theresa Cunningham (Sarah) in Nina Simone: Four Women, running November 10-December 24, 2017 at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

(L to R) Toni L. Martin (Sephronia), Felicia Curry (Sweet Thing) and Theresa Cunningham (Sarah) in Nina Simone: Four Women, running November 10-December 24, 2017 at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Illustration by Uli Knorzer

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cast

THERESA CUNNINGHAM (Sarah) is excited to make her debut at Arena Stage. D.C.-area credits include Caroline or Change (Stillpointe Theatre, Round House); A Raisin in the Sun and If I Hold My Tongue (Compass Rose Theatre); Wiley and the Hairy Man (Imagination Stage); Once on This Island (Olney); Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Riverside Theatre); and Les Misérables and a Helen Hayes Award for The Color Purple (Toby’s Dinner Theatre). Regional credits include I Dream (Alliance Theatre); Smokey Joe’s Café (Atlanta Lyric Theatre); Three Sistahs (Horizon Theatre); Member of the Wedding and Seussical (Springer Opera House); True Story of the 3 Little Pigs (Theatre in the Square); Alice Thru the Wonderglass (Synchronicity Theatre); and Heartbeats (Aurora Theatre). Theresa studied musical theater at Syracuse University.

FELICIA CURRY (Sweet Thing / Dance Captain) returns to Arena Stage after appearing in Disgraced. D.C.‑area credits include OLIVÉRio, Chasing George Washington and Beehive (Kennedy Center); Ragtime, A Christmas Carol and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Ford’s Theatre); Caroline or Change and This (Round House); Home (Rep Stage); Laugh and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Studio Theatre); Les Misérables (Signature Theatre); Imagination Stage; Adventure Theatre MTC; MetroStage; Olney; and Toby’s Dinner Theatre. Regional credits include Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and The Mountaintop (Gulfshore Playhouse), Sister Act (Riverside Center) and The Color Purple (Virginia Repertory Theatre). New York credits include We Three Lizas (Joe’s Pub) and The Brontes (NYMF). Felicia has received five Helen Hayes Award nominations and a RTCC Best Actress Award. She is a graduate of University of Maryland.

HARRIETT D. FOY (Nina Simone) appeared at Arena Stage in The Women of Brewster Place (Helen Hayes nomination), The Piano Lesson, Polk County (Helen Hayes nomination), From the Mississippi Delta and A Wonderful Life. Broadway credits include Amelie, Amazing Grace, The American Plan, Mamma Mia and Once on This Island. Off-Broadway credits include Rimbaud (BAM); On the Levee; Crowns (AUDELCO Award winner); Lone Star Love; Dinah Was; and Inside Out. Regional credits include Reunion (Ford’s Theatre); The House That Will Not Stand (Yale Repertory/Berkeley Repertory, TBA Award winner); dance of the holy ghosts (Yale Repertory); Breath and Imagination (ArtsEmerson); LMNOP (Goodspeed), Ambassador Satch (Dubai); and Seven Guitars (Center Stage). Film/TV credits include Winter’s Tale, Collateral Beauty, Welcome to the Wayne, Orange is the New Black, Rescue Me and Law & Order. She received her B.F.A. from Howard University. “WGATAP!” Twitter:@divafoyh. www.harriettdfoy.com

TONI L. MARTIN (Sephronia) of Milwaukee, WI is thrilled to make her Arena Stage debut. Broadway credits include Airline Highway. Additional New York credits include Dream Ticket (NYC Fringe Festival). Chicago credits include Airline Highway (Steppenwolf Theatre) and A Raisin in the Sun (TimeLine Theatre) for which she won Best Supporting Actress from Black Theatre Alliance. Film/TV credits include NBC’s Chicago Fire and Netflix’s Gypsy. She received her B.F.A. from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. All praise goes to The Creator and much love to my friends and family who show up and support! Twitter: @ToniMartinMKE, Instagram: @LinnMartinT

DARIUS SMITH (Sam) makes his Arena Stage debut. Off-Broadway credits include Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (NY City Center) and Futurity (ArsNova, Soho Rep). D.C.-area credits include Jelly’s Last Jam (Helen Hayes nomination), La Cage aux Folles, Soon (Signature); The Producers, The Little Mermaid and Choir Boy (Studio). Regional credits include His Eye is On the Sparrow (Portland Center Stage) and Choir Boy (Marin Theater Company, JAG Productions). His original works include Marcus Nate is Alive and Great and Still Living in Detroit, The Snowy Day, U.G.L.Y. Awards include 2017 AUDELCO Award nomination for Raisin (Astoria PAC), NY City Center Music Directing Fellowship, San Francisco Theatre Critics Award for Outstanding Music Direction for Choir Boy, and Signature Theatre Young Artist Citation. Upcoming productions include The Wiz (Ford’s Theatre). Twitter/Instagram: @DSmithMusic. www.dariussmithmusic.net

creative

CHRISTINA HAM (Playwright)’s plays have been developed and produced both nationally and internationally with the Kennedy Center, The Guthrie, Goodman Theatre and the Tokyo International Arts Festival, among others. Her play Four Little Girls was directed by Phylicia Rashad at the Kennedy Center to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. Christina is a two-time recipient of a McKnight Fellowship in Playwriting Award and a Jerome Fellowship from the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. Her plays are published by Dramatic Publishing. A graduate of the University of Southern California with an M.F.A. in playwriting from the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television, Christina is a Core Writer of the Playwrights’ Center and the playwright-in-residence at Pillsbury House Theatre in Minneapolis. www.christinaham.com

TIMOTHY DOUGLAS (Director) directed Disgraced and King Hedley II at Arena Stage. D.C. credits include Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3), Two Trains Running, The Trip to Bountiful, Permanent Collection and A Lesson Before Dying (Round House); Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea (six Helen Hayes nominations) and Insurrection: Holding History (Theater Alliance); The Last Orbit of Billy Mars (Woolly Mammoth); and Much Ado About Nothing (Folger Theatre). Additional credits include the premiere of Rajiv Joseph’s The Lake Effect (Silk Road Rising), Bronte: A Portrait of Charlotte (Off-Broadway) and the world premiere of August Wilson’s Radio Golf (Yale Repertory). He has directed for Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (Associate Artist), American Conservatory Theater, The Guthrie, Berkeley Repertory, Center Theatre Group, South Coast Repertory, Steppenwolf, Portland Center Stage, Berkshire Theatre Festival and Milwaukee Repertory. www.timothydouglas.org

DARIUS SMITH (Music Director/Music and Vocal Arrangements) See cast bios.

LADY DANE FIGUEROA EDIDI (Choreographer) last appeared at Arena Stage as Lady in Trust Me as part of the Kogod Cradle Series. D.C. credits include Faith in Wig Out! (Studio Theatre) and New York credits include Klytmnestra in Klytmnestra: An Epic Slam Poem (WOW Theater Café). Considered one of the most prolific artists of our time, she is the first TWOC to publish a work of fiction in D.C., and released her 10th book in August. She was the first TWOC to be nominated for a Helen Hayes Award (Outstanding Choreography for Theater Alliance’s Dontrell Who Kissed the Sea.) As an advocate, she is the founder of The Inanna D Initiatives and has created several arts advocacy initiatives to help combat the erasure of TGNC Artist of Color. www.LadyDaneFE.com

TIMOTHY MACKABEE (Set Designer)’s Broadway credits include The Elephant Man (starring Bradley Cooper) and Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth (dir. Spike Lee). West End credits include The Elephant Man. Off-Broadway credits include The Last Match (Roundabout); Guards at the Taj, The Penitent and Our New Girl (Atlantic Theater Company); Vietgone and Important Hats of the Twentieth Century (MTC); Heathers The Musical and Luce (Lincoln Center); Gigantic (Vineyard Theatre); and Much Ado About Nothing (The Public). Regional credits include Center Theatre Group, Steppenwolf, Old Globe, A.C.T., Ford’s Theatre, Seattle Repertory, Center Stage, Denver Center, Portland Center Stage and Cleveland Play House. TV credits include Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo and Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth (HBO), Gotham, Smash and The Today Show. He attended North Carolina School of the Arts and Yale School of Drama. Instagram: @timmackabeedesign. www.timothymackabeedesign.com

KARA HARMON (Costume Designer)’s Arena Stage credits include Native Gardens. Broadway credits include assistant costume designer for The Crucible, Magic Bird, First Date and Memphis. Regional theater credits include The Legend of Georgia McBride (Marin Theatre); The Mountaintop (Trinity Repertory); Barbecue (Geffen Playhouse); The Rape of Lucretia (Wolf Trap); Ethel and God of Carnage (Alliance Theatre); Seven Guitars (Actors Theatre of Louisville); Much Ado About Nothing and The Comedy of Errors (Oregon Shakespeare); Safehouse (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park); Clybourne Park and The Trip to Bountiful (Hangar Theatre); Dot (Vineyard Theatre); and Seven Guitars and Broke-ology (The Juilliard School).TV credits include assistant costume designer on Netflix’s Daredevil and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Kara received her M.F.A. from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. www.KaraHarmonDesign.com

MICHAEL GILLIAM (Lighting Designer)’s Broadway credits include Bonnie and Clyde, Brooklyn, Big River and Stand-Up Tragedy. West End credits include Gershwin Alone and Off-Broadway credits include Cagney The Musical, Tappin’ Thru Life, The Best Is Yet to Come, Striking 12, Blue and Menopause the Musical. National tour credits include Looped, Peter Pan, Brooklyn, Guys and Dolls and Big River. Regional theater credits include Arena Stage, Alley Theatre, The Old Globe, Mark Taper Forum, La Jolla Playhouse, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Goodman Theatre, The Guthrie, Pasadena Playhouse, Geffen Playhouse, the Kennedy Center, Ford’s Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Prince Music Theatre, Denver Center and Arizona Theatre Company. Awards include Ovation Awards, Drama-Logue Awards, Garland Awards, San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Awards and the 1999 Career Achievement Award from the LA Drama Critics Circle.

MATTHEW M. NIELSON (Sound Designer)’s Off-Broadway credits include The Public’s Shakespeare in the Park, Lincoln Center and 59E59. Regional credits include Ford’s Theatre, Round House, Catalyst Theatre, Forum Theatre, Theatre Alliance, Woolly Mammoth, Signature Theatre, Olney, Kennedy Center, Smithsonian, Studio Theatre, Delaware Theatre Company, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Barrington Stage Company, Portland Center Stage, Center Stage, Milwaukee Repertory and St. Louis Repertory. Film/TV credits include Those Who Wait, Death in Time, Elbow Grease, Blue, Epix Drive-In, From Hell to Here, The Good Ways of Things and The Long Road. Matthew is a founding member of the audio theater company The Audible Group and creator of Troublesome Gap. He won several Helen Hayes Awards and film festival awards. He runs Sound Lab Studios, a recording studio and production house. Samples can be heard online at www.CuriousMusic.com.

ANNE NESMITH (Wig Designer) returns to Arena Stage where design credits include The Pajama Game, Smart People, A Raisin in the Sun, Watch on the Rhine, Carousel, The Little Foxes, All the Way, Oliver!, Destiny of Desire, Fiddler on the Roof, Mother Courage and Her Children and The Music Man. Recent credits include A Little Night Music (Signature Theatre), La Pietra Del Paragone (Wolf Trap), Le Nozze di Figaro (Nishinomiya, Japan) and Death of a Salesman (Ford’s Theatre). Her designs have been seen at the Kennedy Center, Opera Philadelphia, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington Ballet and Saito Kinen Festival in Matsumoto, Japan. Anne was the resident wig/makeup designer for the Baltimore Opera and has created wigs for Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery programs, Investigation Discovery’s Ice Cold Killers, Maryland Public Television and the U.S. Army’s tour Spirit of America.

CLIFF WILLIAMS III (Fight Consultant) is happy to return for his ninth production at Arena Stage. Cliff is a native Virginian and has been choreographing and directing for the last 12 years, primarily in the D.C. area. Favorite credits include The Shoplifters, Long Day’s Journey into Night and Gem of the Ocean (Arena Stage); As You Like It (Center Stage); Chimerica (Studio Theatre); Dead Man’s Cell Phone (Woolly Mammoth); Dracula, The Scene and Six Years (Actors Theatre of Louisville); Angels in America (Forum Theatre); and The Argument and Yentl (Theater J). www.CliffWilliamsIII.net

JOCELYN CLARKE (Dramaturg) is currently Theatre Adviser to the Arts Council of Ireland and dramaturg at American Voices New Play Institute at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. He has taught dramaturgy at the John Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts, Columbia University, NYU Abu Dhabi, and Trinity College Dublin. He was the Commissioning and Literary Manager of the Abbey Theatre for four years, and lead theatre critic with The Sunday Tribune for nine years. He is an associate artist with The Civilians and Theatre Mitu in New York. He has written six plays for Anne Bogart and the SITI Company – Bob, Alice’s Adventures Underground, Room, Score, Antigone and Trojan Women (After Euripides). Chess Game No. 5, his new collaboration with the company, premiered in New York in March.

GEOFF JOSSELSON, CSA (New York Casting) is pleased to continue his association with Arena Stage. Broadway and Off-Broadway productions include The Velocity of Autumn starring Estelle Parsons; Southern Comfort; Yank!; Enter Laughing; Pretty Filthy; John and Jen, Himself and Nora; and Altar Boyz. He has also cast productions for Actors Theatre of Louisville, Arizona Theatre Company, Barrington Stage Company, Bay Street Theatre, Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Civilians, Cleveland Play House, Denver Center, Marriott Theatre, North Shore Music Theatre, Old Globe, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Public Theatre, San Francisco Symphony and the York Theatre Company. www.geoffjosselson.com

CHRISTI B. SPANN (Stage Manager) returns to Arena after serving as stage manager for A Raisin in the Sun, The Little Foxes and Love in Afghanistan. Christi spent 12 seasons on the stage management staff at the Denver Center Theatre Company, four summer seasons with The Great River Shakespeare Festival and just finished Shakespeare in Love with Virginia Repertory Theatre in Richmond, VA.

MARNE ANDERSON (Assistant Stage Manager)’s Arena Stage credits include A Raisin in the Sun, Roe, Moby Dick, All the Way, Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End, King Hedley II, Five Guys Named Moe, The Mountaintop, Metamorphoses and Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies. Additional D.C. credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Folger Theatre); Angels in America: Parts 1 and 2 (Round House); Wig Out! (Studio Theatre) and The Arsonists, You for Me for You and Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play (Woolly Mammoth). She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.

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Nina Simone: Four Women

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