Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith and Executive Director Edgar Dobie announced the 2017-18 season lineup for the company’s 68th season. Among the plays was Christina Ham’s NINA SIMONE: FOUR WOMEN. A play with music, places the activist singer Simone in the bombed Alabama church where four girls were killed in 1963.
Velvet-throated songstress Nina Simone hypnotized audiences with her signature renditions of standards from the American songbook. But on September 15, 1963, a devastating explosion in Birmingham, Alabama rocked our entire nation to the core, and from the memory of the four little girls that were lost in this unimaginable tragedy, came “Four Women”—along with Simone’s other activist anthems like “Mississippi Goddam,” “Old Jim Crow” and “To Be Young, Gifted and Black.” Through storytelling and song, Nina Simone: Four Women reveals how this iconic chanteuse found her true voice—and how the “High Priestess of Soul” defined the sound of the Civil Rights Movement.
The play, which was originally developed at the Park Square Theatre in Minneapolis, will be directed by Timothy Douglas with a new cast performing from November 10 through December 24, 2017 in the Kreeger.
Playwright Christina Ham is the recipient of the Marianne Murphy Playwriting Award, two McKnight Fellowships for Playwrights, and a Jerome Fellowship from the Playwrights’ Center. She has received commissions from the Guthrie Theater and Park Square Theatre where she developed NINA SIMONE. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California and holds an M.F.A. in Playwriting from the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television.
Ms. Ham’s plays have been produced and developed with Mark Taper Forum, The Guthrie Theater, The Goodman Theater, the Summer Play Festival, The Fountain Theater, Los Angeles Theater Center, The Falcon Theater, The Illusion Theater, Stepping Stone Theater, A.S.K. Theater Projects, the Kennedy Center and the Stella Adler Theater among others. Ms. Ham is the recipient of a 2005 Marianne Murphy Women & Philanthropy Award in Playwriting, a 2005-06 Jerome Fellowship from The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, and a 2006 MacDowell Colony residency. She has been commissioned by The Guthrie Theater, Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and The Stepping Stone Theater. Her full-length plays include Tumbleweeds, 626 Broadway, After Adam, A Wive’s Tale, Cul de Sac, Crawlspace, and Mad Cow. A monologue from her play Tumbleweeds is published by Heinemann, and she is also published by Playscripts Inc. Ms. Ham is a member playwright of the Workhaus Collective and The Dramatists Guild of America.