Breaking News
More () »

African-American stories on stage | How theaters are marking Black History Month

Minneapolis' Children’s Theatre Company is performing “Locomotion” through February, a play about the foster care system seen through the lens of a Black family.

MINNEAPOLIS — February is Black History Month and events are getting underway to honor African Americans and the significant strides they've made. 

In the local theater community, it's not just adults telling Black stories on stage, but also youth. Children's Theatre Company just opened a show called "Locomotion" and Youth Performance Company will soon highlight civil rights activists in "Inspired by Claudette & Rosa."

"Locomotion" is based on a book that follows the journey of an 11-year-old boy, Lonnie. Played by Junie Edwards, Lonnie learns to write poetry while going from family to foster home without his sister.

"It does highlight the complexities of the foster care system," said Ann Joseph-Douglas, CTC's director of education. "[It] also highlights the complexities of the Black family."

The 75-minute play was adapted for the stage by the book's author, Jacqueline Woodson. Talvin Wilks is the director. 

"Locomotion" runs through March 5. Following Saturday matinees and weekday school performances, audiences have the option to stay for a talk-back session, which Joseph-Douglas says could be cathartic following the beating death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis last month and George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020.

"Acts of violence impact us all as Americans, right? And so to be able to give a platform for young people to talk about how they're feeling and to talk about how they want to see the world, that's what's really important for theaters," she said.

Meanwhile, Youth Performance Company is wrapping up rehearsals for "Inspired by Claudette & Rosa." Here, playwright Laura Mann Hill is cast in the show. Derek Washington is the director.

"It is a show that is about Rosa Parks at Claudette Colvin who are kind of famous for refusing to give up their seats on Montgomery buses in the 1950s," Washington said. "People are probably familiar with Rosa's story. I don't know that as many people are familiar with Claudette's story but Claudette was actually the first person to really refuse and was actually a 15-year-old student."

In the play, it is a modern-day student who learns about Claudette in school.

"It really helps teach lessons," Washington said. "It really helps the audience feel like that they have a semblance of being in those people's shoes."

"Inspired by Claudette & Rosa" runs Feb 10-26. Additional productions include "Sugar in Our Wounds" at Penumbra Theatre Feb 21-March 19 and "Blues for an Alabama Sky" at Guthrie Theater running now through March 12. Feb 10 is BIPOC Networking Night at the Guthrie, which includes a pre-show conversation, complimentary refreshments and tickets to the performance.

Watch more local news:

Watch the latest local news from the Twin Cities in our YouTube playlist:

Before You Leave, Check This Out