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Sis's Tavern Comes to Life in new play commissioned by MAPPING RACISM project

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Ally Theatre Company presents Welcome to Sis’s a new play by Doug Robinson and directed by Angelisa Gillyard which will play for one weekend only at Joe’s Movement Emporium in Mount Rainier, MD.

Welcome to Sis’s is the culmination of Ally Theatre Company’s contribution to the Mapping Racism Project whose mission to reveal the hidden architecture of segregation in Prince George’s County is done in part through examining and exposing the use of restrictive deed covenants in the creation of new housing. 

“This season at Ally we are creating conversations at the intersection of borders and belonging,” says Ally Theatre Company’s Managing Director, Ivana (Tai) Alexander, “what happens when borders, be they physical, structural, psychological, or spiritual, are created in our lives and communities and how they affect our ability to survive and thrive because of and in spite of those barriers. Welcome to Sis's specifically examines the impact that racially motivated barriers created by restrictive property deed covenants had on the communities of Brentwood and North Brentwood, Maryland. It illuminates the voices of pillars of the North Brentwood community, like Sis Walls, who was a pioneer, a dreamer, a striver, and in many ways the heart and soul that kept the drumbeat of progress going while she kept the music pumping at her local tavern.”

Welcome to Sis's specifically examines the impact that racially motivated barriers created by restrictive property deed covenants had on the communities of Brentwood and North Brentwood, Maryland.

Playwright Doug Robinson, commissioned in January to create this new piece, worked with the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation to learn the history of racial exclusion in Hyattsville and the surrounding communities of Brentwood and North Brentwood. “The process of writing this play was a whirlwind experience, there was so much material to sift through,” he says. “I'd read one page about the mill race and then become enraptured by a newspaper article about the early days of the arcade. Every bit of history I read was more alluring than the last. After going through pages upon pages of primary sources to find them, the dramatic gem that is Sis's Tavern was a god send. Sis's gave me a starting point to write from. I had first hand accounts of who would be there and from that I could imagine what they might talk about, fight about, and care about.” He adds, “I hope the audience is reminded that the past is ever present and it is up to every individual person to carry on the lessons of the past into the future.”

I hope the audience is reminded that the past is ever present and it is up to every individual person to carry on the lessons of the past into the future

Ally Theatre Company, recently named the 2019 recipient of the John Aniello Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company Award, is committed to producing theatre designed to acknowledge and confront systemic oppression in America. Welcome to Sis’s marks the start of their third season and residency at Joe’s Movement Emporium.

SYNOPSIS: It's Friday night in North Brentwood and anybody who's anybody knows the spot to be is Sis's Tavern. Sis, Margaret, Willie, and Sterling are all on hand to prep for a busy night, but when James doesn't show on time, tensions begin to rise. Set in the 1940s, Welcome to Sis's shines a light on one community's ability to survive and thrive amidst the turbulent backdrop of racist housing codes and local dividing lines which played out across the country's neighborhoods and still affects us today.

CAST:

  • Ivana (Tai) Alexander as Sis

  • Eli El as Sterling

  • Tamieka Chavis as Margaret

  • Axandre Oge as Willie

  • James Micheal Nelson as James

PRODUCTION TEAM:

  • Director: Angelisa Gillyard

  • Production Manager: Ty Hallmark

  • Stage Manager: Aletha Saunders

  • Costume Design: Noni Ford

  • Lighting and Sound Design: Jeniffer Leon

WHERE: Joe's Movement Emporium 3309 Bunker Hill Road, Mount Rainier, MD 20712

WHEN: Four Performances Only

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