Welcome to American Blues Theater’s Season 33 “Home Sweet Home”. We proudly present a revival of Pearl Cleage’s Flyin’ West, directed by Goodman Theatre’s Resident Director and American Blues’s Artistic Affiliate Chuck Smith.

Ms. Cleage is a highly-successful writer and regarded as one of the most influential African-American contemporary playwrights in the United States. The daughter of civil rights activist Bishop Albert Cleage, she learned to use her voice from a young age. She writes, “My response to the oppression I face is to name it, describe it, analyze it, protest it, and propose solutions to it as loud[ly] as I possibly can every time I get the chance.  I purposely people my plays with fast-talking, quick-thinking black women since the theater is, for me, one of the few places where we have a chance to get an uninterrupted word in edgewise.”

The characters in Flyin’ West are as relevant in 2018 as when they first appeared in The Alliance Theater’s world premiere (1992).  Ms. Cleage’s characters are complex, fiercely independent, and unforgettable.  They speak their truths and claim ownership of their stories.  In the first scene, you’ll hear Miss Leah say, “Colored folks can’t forget the plantation any more than they can forget their own names. If we forget that, we ain’t got no history past last week.”

Ms. Cleage and our production team will transport you back to the late 1800s.  You’ll encounter references to the Homestead Act and timeless themes of freedom and identity from perspectives that should be required learning in schools.  American Blues Theater proudly partners this production with Chicago Public Schools and Connections for Abused Women and Their Children.  We give each organization complimentary tickets and materials for educational growth.

In the famous words of Ms. Cleage, “You can’t know the meaning of the lesson until the class is over!”

– Gwendolyn Whiteside


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