6abc Loves the Arts: Having Our Say

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The Philadelphia Theatre Company is navigating 100 years of black history with an inspiring Broadway play called Having Our Say. (WPVI)

The Philadelphia Theatre Company is navigating 100 years of black history with an inspiring Broadway play called Having Our Say.

The play is based on a book by the same name, and it's the true life story of the Delany sisters, born in North Carolina in the late 1800s, the daughters of a former slave.

The Harlem renaissance after World War I drew the sisters up north where they lived together for most of their lives, reaching the ages of 104 and 109.

"One of them is very feisty, the other one is a little more softer," says Mary B. Robinson, Director of Having Our Say.

The show is set in 1993, in their home, as they reflect on the last century while preparing a meal in memory of their father's birthday.

"They come from a very large, very loving family," says Robinson, "their father was the Bishop Delany, the first African-American bishop in the Episcopal church in the US."

The sisters share their memories of growing up in the Jim Crow South and the barriers they broke.

One became a high school teacher in New York; the other became one of the few black women licensed to be a dentist.

"They're so resilient," says Robinson, "and they just have a wonderful captivating way of pulling us into an event as if we're really living through it with them."

The sisters are played by Cherene Snow and Perri Gaffney.

"To portray them is to honor them," says Snow, who plays the role of Bessie Delany, "We're bringing them back to life."

"They are two very extraordinary people in very ordinary circumstances," adds Gaffney, who plays Sadie Delany.

Their story was first shared in the 1993 best-selling memoir written by the Delany Sisters and New York Times reporter Amy Hill Hearth.

"The challenges that they faced unfortunately are still challenges that we face; they have not been resolved," says Gaffney.

The book was adapted for the stage and premiered on Broadway in 1995 and later toured the country.

"It's just a very warm and very thought-provoking evening of theater," says Robinson.

Having Our Say is at at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre from January 27-February 19.

For tickets and show times visit http://philadelphiatheatrecompany.org/
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