Description and review of When We Were Colored, A Mother’s Story, a World Premier play written by Sacramento Playwright Ginger Rutland.
When We Were Colored is now playing at the Sacramento Theatre Company (STC) on the Pollock Stage. It runs March 20 to April 28, 2019.
After attending a book reading by Ginger I was looking forward to seeing the play she had adapted from her mother’s memoir. I had enjoyed reading the book authored by Eva Rutland, and the play did not disappoint. Ginger did an excellent job adapting stories contained in the book for the stage.
See related blog post: When We Were Colored, A Mother’s Story
SacramentoRevealed.com – All Things Sacramento (from a personal perspective)
When We Were Colored, A Mother’s Story – The Play
When We Were Colored tells the story of a well-educated, middle-class black woman born and raised in segregated Atlanta. Married with four children, she and her family move to Sacramento after World War II when her husband Bill accepts a job as a civilian administrator at McClellan Air Force Base. In Sacramento Eva comes face-to-face with the challenges of integration for the first time.
- Bill – Michael J. Asberry
- Eva- Nathalie Autumn Bennett
- Ginger – Brooklynn Solomon
- Female Ensemble – Elizabeth Anne Springett
- Male Ensemble – Steven Ross Thomas
- Little Girl – Abisola Forrester/Lauryn Taylor-Piazza
The Pollock Stage at STC is small and all the seats were full that evening. The stage props were minimal, augmented by the projection of family photographs on both sides of the stage. The cast, directed by Stephen Eich, did an excellent job bringing the story of Eva Rutland to life.
The play opens with Eva, accompanied by her daughter and granddaughter, at a meet your local author and book signing event. Eva, who had started going blind in her 50’s, was also hard of hearing at this point in time.
A series of scenes of important moments from Eva’s past follow. As the stories unfold on stage the audience is provided with insights into some of the difficulties faced by blacks in the segregated South and the non-segregated (but not really integrated) West.
Eva’s husband Bill felt strongly that when members of the black community had the opportunity, they also had a responsibility to strive their upmost to excel. When individuals who should be role models failed to live up to their potential Bill would make his opinion known – in no uncertain terms.
Yes, there were difficulties, but Eva and Bill faced the challenges to build a good life and raise happy and accomplished children with both perseverance and strength of character.
Eva, at play end, acknowledges her understanding of her husband and his strong beliefs.
Ginger describes the key take-away from the play best in the last paragraph of her “Playwright’s Note”.
“But let me be clear, this is not just another play about black grievance. It is also about the joy of being black, of two people falling in love, laughing, dancing, raising children and growing old and infirm together”.
About Ginger Rutland
Born in Ohio in 1948, Ginger was the youngest of four children. She moved to Sacramento in 1952 with her family. Ginger and her twin sister were 4 years old.
Ginger attended public schools in Sacramento, including McClatchy High School. Her father’s work took the family to Germany in 1965, and that is where she graduated from high school.
Ginger graduated from Howard University, the historically black college in Washington, D.C. Afterwards, she began her career in journalism. Ginger worked as a TV reporter for 17 years – first as a general assignment reporter for KCRA-TV and then a Capital Bureau reporter for San Francisco’s NBC affiliate KRON-TV.
In 1988, Ginger joined the Editorial Board of The Sacramento Bee as an Associate Editor covering a wide variety of topics. She retired from The Sacramento Bee in 2013.
Ginger currently lives in the Curtis Park neighborhood of Sacramento with her husband, Donald Fields.
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