Opening Night: Homecoming Players bring the Mississippi Delta to the Kitchen Theatre

For two performances only, on two consecutive Monday nights, The Homecoming Players celebrate Black History Month with a concert reading of Endesha Ida Mae Holland’s “powerful, personal, and poignant memoir play,” From the Mississippi Delta.

Chisom Awachie, Leslyn Mc Bean-Clairborne, and Sylvie A. Yntema in From the Mississippi Delta. Photo by Jeff Hodges provided.

The play uses three actresses (Chisom Awachie, Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, and Sylvie Yntema) in eleven anecdotal scenes, to relate the story of Holland’s impoverished upbringing in segregated Greenwood, Mississippi, according to Homecoming Players co-founder Rachel Hockett.

“Transformation is what my play is about,” said Dr. Holland. “You have to keep going no matter how rough it seems. My mama used to say, ‘Don’t let nobody stop you, stand in your way,’ and that’s my motto to this day. I don’t let nothing stop me.”

Homecoming Players co-founder and literary manager Arthur Bicknell worked with Dr. Holland on the play’s Off-Broadway debut. “In the play’s most potent moments, harrowing episodes are tempered with humor and tenderness,” said Alvin Klein in The New York Times. “From the Mississippi Delta celebrates the resilience and the jubilation of the female human spirit.”

The reading is directed by Sarah K. Chalmers, founding member of both Civic Ensemble and the Kitchen Theatre Company. Chalmers says, “I was honored to be asked to direct this important piece about an African-American woman whose story of perseverance in the face of racism, sexism, and economic injustice is an inspiration for our continuing struggle for human rights in this country.”

The production, which opens the Homecoming Players’ fifth season, runs on just two nights, Monday, February 6th and Monday, February 13th at the Kitchen Theatre on West State Street, with showtimes at 7:30pm.

From the Mississippi Delta is part of the Kitchen Theatre’s Kitchen Sink series: It’s not produced by the Kitchen Theatre Company, but is part of a program funded by CFCU Community Credit Union that enables smaller theatre companies to put on productions throughout the year when the theatre isn’t being used for Kitchen productions. “For an itinerant company like ours, a steady artistic home like the Kitchen is a tremendous boon,” Hockett says. “We pay a reasonable rental fee to KTC for one dress/tech rehearsal, plus two performances, and KTC artistic interns stage- and house-manage our shows.”

General admission tickets are $18, and are available at the door 30 minutes before curtain, by calling 607-272-0570, or online at homecomingplayers.org.

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