Who has the right to a life’s story—the person who lived it, or the people who were touched by it? This is the central unanswerable question behind Bee-Luther-Hatchee, a play by Thomas Gibbons…. Intelligent and unsettling, Bee-Luther-Hatchee pulls off a nearly impossible trick: creating a situation in which two people, at a complete bypass, are both right and wrong at the same time.
The play focuses on young Shelita Burns, a New York publisher who has started a series of autobiographies by black people. Her latest, and most successful, publication has garnered much praise and awards, but seems to come with a bit of a mystery: the author is a recluse, and will only communicate via post. When Shelita goes South to give the author her latest literary award, she begins to unravel this mystery and finds herself caught in a moral dilemma and a professional trap– revealing the truth might ruin both her and the books she publishes, but perpetuating lies will keep her readers in blissful ignorance.
—Text, above, thanks to Jena Tessa Fox at BroadwayWorld.com
Bee-Luther-Hatchee is currently in production at the Sierra Madre Playhouse and runs through March 18. Shelita is played by Tamarra Graham who has performed at the Greenhouse Theater Center in Chicago, appeared at Second City Hollywood, served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, and trained as a clinical psychologist. The cast includes, as well, Olivia Cristina Delgado, Christian Lebanon, Jon Sprik, and Leilani Smith.
From Director Saundra McClain:
I believe Gibbons’ play rests upon an ideology that many black artists, like myself, take issue and wrestle with i.e. who has the right to tell our stories. Especially since stories by people of color rarely receive the recognition they deserve. We are often stereotyped by the media and our accomplishments in literature and science blatantly overlooked in the history books. For example, the simple mention by First Lady, Michelle Obama, at this year’s Democratic National Convention about waking up in house built by slaves was, surprisingly, received with outrage and disbelief, sending some pundits on Fox News scrambling to fact check and undermine her statement. The true significance of respect and homage she was paying to our African American ancestors, lost in the shadows of history, was almost totally overlooked!
Therein lies the true paradox the play exposes in our culture – we live in parallel universes. Bee-luther-hatchee, a strange yet fascinating title, is described in the play as the last stop on the train after Hell. Here, across the racial divide, souls like stars, can see each other, but are forever separated by light-years of darkness, never able to communicate….
Through Feb. 18, Friday-Sunday, times vary
Sierra Madre Playhouse
87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre 91024
Tickets: $17-$30; purchase tickets here
For complete details, visit SierraMadrePlayhouse.org
Or call 1.626.355.4318