Rowan stages story of African-American pioneer women

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In conjunction with African-American History Month, the Department of Theatre & Dance presents Pearl Cleage's acclaimed play Flyin' West.

Exploring a range of themes such as sisterhood, race, oppression, community and persecution, the Department of Theatre & Dance at Rowan University stages Pearl Cleage’s potent historical drama Flyin’ West, February 16 - 19, 2012 (Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, and Sunday at 3 pm) in Tohill Theatre on the Glassboro campus.

Directed  by Dr. Elisabeth Hostetter, Cleage’s play tells the story of African-American sisters who head for the “Wild West” in 1898 to build a life of freedom and prosperity in the wake of Reconstruction. In the all-black town of Nicodemus, Kansas, they face the challenges of long winters and hard work, while the play deals with ideas from racism and miscegenation to feminism, pride and liberty.

“I think of this show as a photograph,” Hostetter states, emphasizing that the play preserves the histories of a place and time in America’s history, in addition to telling this particular story. “It gives us an image of what these lives were like.”

Hostetter is joined by a creative team that includes resident designers Bart Healy (set) and Robert Thorpe (lights), as well as visiting artist Amy Best (costumes), an Associate Professor and Costume Designer at DeSales University. The cast features Nia Ali of Perth Amboy, RoShawn Briscoe of Dover (DE), Jamilah Fossie of Pennsauken, Dinah Ikpah of Williamstown, Dwight Merritt of Collingswood and Kassi Wilson of Somerville.

An Associate Professor of Theatre at Rowan, Hostetter’s previous directing and acting projects include How I Learned to Drive, The Children’s Hour, Night of the Iguana, Who Will Carry the Word and For Colored Girls. In 2004, Edwin Mellen Press published her first book, The Berlin State Theater Under the Nazi Regime. She also co-founded the “Other Words Project,” with her husband Dr. Anthony Hostetter, to produce recently-translated plays with politically relevant subject matter. Her interest in German theatre earned her a National Endowment for the Humanities Award to study Bertolt Brecht in Berlin in 2000. She received her Ph.D. in Theatre History from the University of Missouri, her M.A. from University of Texas/Austin and her B.F.A. in Acting from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Tohill Theatre is located in Bunce Hall on the campus of Rowan University, Route 322 in Glassboro, NJ. Tickets are $10, general admission; and $5 for seniors, non-Rowan students and Rowan alumni. Tickets for Rowan students and staff are free with valid ID. For reservations and information, visit rowan.tix.com or call the box office at (856) 256-4545.

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