Trustus Theatre, South Carolina's only resident professional theatre, presents the world premiere of Black Star Rising, chronicling the life of late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, running at the theatre in Columbia, S.C. April 18-May 10.
Black Star Rising, a collaboration between Trustus artistic director Jim Thigpen and playwright Doug Williams, has been in the process of development for more than two years. The play follows Jordan from her childhood in a Houston ghetto to her abrupt decision to leave the Congress at the height of her career.
Jordan was the first African-American woman elected to the Texas State Senate, then to the congress from the South, and the first African American woman to deliver a keynote speech at a national party convention.
Thigpen says of Jordan's story, "It's an American journey." Although he notes that Jordan did not show up for the Civil Rights Movement in the way many would have wished, he admires Jordan for her ultimate strength. "White men made all the rules, and she played them in order to get ahead...when it came time for those guys to go to the wall on her behalf, they betrayed her. That's the tragedy of the story. Then she has the courage to basically say, "If crossing over some ethical line is the only way to get the power I've earned, I'm not going to do it," and makes the decision to quit rather than sell out on her values. That's her personal triumph. "
Trustus company member Jocelyn Sanders will portray Jordan. Company members and staff will portray roles such as Johnson, Nixon, Carter and more than 50 other characters in Jordan's life. A symposium on Jordan will be held at the theatre April 26, from 2-4 pm. A panel of scholars in the fields of Women's Studies, African-American Studies and Government will be present.
For tickets or more information, please call (803) 254-9732, or refer to the Trustus Theatre regional listing on Playbill On-Line.
--By Blair Glaser