From Englewood to North Lawndale to Portage Park, in an unprecedented collaboration with the Chicago Park District, Goodman Theatre presents Cheryl L. West’s electrifying call-to-action—Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It!—in a FREE three-week, nine-location outdoor engagement. This 40-minute abridged version of West’s play Fannie (recently announced as part of the Goodman’s upcoming 2021 Season) stars Chicago favorite E. Faye Butler as Fannie Lou Hamer—one of the most powerful, passionate voices of the civil and voting rights movement—with musician Felton Offard.
Goodman Resident Artistic Associate Henry Godinez directs the world-premiere production, which includes spirituals “I Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round,” “We Shall Not Be Moved” and “I’m on My Way to Freedom.” Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It! appears September 17 – October 3 at nine Chicago parks (see below); running time is approximately 40 minutes, no intermission. Admission is free; and the viewing area will be seated on a first-come, first-served basis beginning one hour prior to the performance. Social distancing and masks are required.
For a full performance schedule, safety precautions and more, visit GoodmanTheatre.org/SpeakOnIt. Tune in for an online conversation with the artists about producing this socially-distanced production outdoors—and how Fannie Lou Hamer’s story inspires communities today—on the Goodman’s new virtual discussion series, Live @ Five, this Friday, September 11 at 5pm; visit GoodmanTheatre.org/LiveAtFive.
“How ‘woke to the vote’ are we, nearly 60 years after the Voting Rights Act demolished those discriminatory barriers that kept people of color from exercising their civil liberty? There is courage in the face of fire, hope in tomorrow, and we all have a stake in our country,” said Playwright Cheryl L. West, who marks her fourth Goodman collaboration over three decades, including Pullman Porter Blues (2013), Play On! (1998) and Puddin ‘n Pete (1993). Added Director Henry Godinez, “Knowing that Fannie’s voice needed to be heard during this critical time, we were inspired by the work of El Teatro Campesino and this quote from Luis Valdez, who himself was inspired by the determination of Fannie Lou Hamer—‘If the people can’t come to the theater, then the theater must go to the people.’ That is what this is all about.”
“Theater in Chicago’s parks is a long-standing tradition that we are excited to continue this summer through our partnership with Goodman Theatre and their outdoor, staged presentation of Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It! in nine of our city’s amazing green spaces,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent & CEO Michael P. Kelly
Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It! is a passionate, immersive call to action inspired by the life of the eponymous civil rights activist—and an electrifying rally that defines what it means to be a true revolutionary. E. Faye Butler appears in the title role together with musician Felton Offard. Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It! Is adapted from Fannie—playwright Cheryl L. West’s Goodman co-commission (with Seattle Repertory Theater) that was developed in the 2019 New Stages Festival and will appear as part of the Goodman’s upcoming 2021 Season (dates TBA).
September 17 at 6pm – Hamilton Park (Englewood) 513 W. 72nd Street
September 18 at 6pm – Robert Abbott Park (West Chesterfield) 49 E. 95th Street
September 19 at 3pm – DuSable Museum of African American History, George Washington Park (Washington/Woodlawn) 740 E. 56th Place
September 24 at 6pm – Willye B. White Park (Rogers Park) 1610 Howard Street
September 25 at 6pm – Indian Boundary Park (West Ridge) 2500 W. Lunt Avenue
September 26 at 3pm – Portage Park (Portage Park) 4100 N. Long Avenue
October 1 at 6pm – Austin Town Hall (Austin) 5610 W. Lake Street
October 2 at 6pm – Homan Square (North Lawndale) 3559 W. Arthington Street
October 3 at 3pm – Samuel Ellis Park (Bronzeville/Douglas) 3520 S. Cottage Grove Avenue
Goodman Theatre is grateful for the support of PNC Bank (Arts in Community Sponsor), Abbott Fund (Sponsor Partner) and Allstate Insurance Company (Youth Arts Sponsor).
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Cheryl L. West (Playwright) returns to the Goodman where her play Pullman Porter Blues was produced in 2013. Her plays have also been seen at Minneapolis Children’s Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle Rep, Indiana Rep, Arena Stage, Old Globe, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Bay Street Theatre Festival, Syracuse Stage, Cleveland Play House, South Coast Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Manhattan Theatre Club, and Off‐Broadway's Second Stage. Plays include Last Stop on Market Street, Shout Sister Shout, Akeelah and the Bee, and Jar the Floor. She has written TV and film projects at Disney, Paramount, MTV Films, Showtime, TNT, HBO, CBS, BET and is the Webby-nominated writer for the original web series Diary of a Single Mom.
Henry Godinez (Director) is the Resident Artistic Associate at Goodman Theatre. His Goodman directing credits include Charise Castro Smith’s Feathers and Teeth, The Sins of Sor Juana and Mariela in the Desert by Karen Zacarías; José Rivera’s Boleros for the Disenchanted (and world premiere at Yale Repertory Theatre); Regina Taylor’s Millennium Mambo; Luis Alfaro’s Electricidad and Straight as a Line; The Cook by Eduardo Machado; Zoot Suit by Luis Valdez; the Goodman and Teatro Vista co-production of José Rivera’s Cloud Tectonics and the 1996–2001 productions of A Christmas Carol. He also served as director of the Goodman’s Latino Theatre Festival. As an actor, Godinez appeared most recently in Goodman’s The Winter’s Tale, 2666 and the Goodman and Teatro Buendía of Cuba world premiere of Pedro Páramo, and at Writers Theatre in the title role of Quixote: In the Conquest of Self. He has also appeared on television in Chicago PD, Above the Law, The Beast, The Chicago Code, Boss and Chicago Fire. Co-founder and former artistic director of Teatro Vista, Godinez is the recipient of the 1999 Theatre Communications Group Alan Schneider Director Award, the Distinguished Service Award from the Lawyers for the Creative Arts and was honored as the 2008 Latino Professional of the Year by the Chicago Latino Network. Born in Havana, Cuba, Godinez is a professor at Northwestern University and serves on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Arts Council.
E. Faye Butler (Fannie Lou Hamer) returns to Goodman Theatre, where she most recently appeared in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Previous Goodman credits include Pullman Porter Blues, Crowns, Ain’t Misbehavin, A Christmas Carol and Purlie. National and Regional tours: Mamma Mia, Dinah Was, Ain’t Misbehavin, Nunsense and Cope. Butler performs in regional theaters across the country including Arena Stage, Steppenwolf Theatre, Court Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Baltimore Centerstage, La Jolla Playhouse, Marriott Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse, Mixed Blood, Illusion Theatre, Signature Theatre, Olney Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, The Muny, St. Louis Repertory, Seattle Repertory, Drury Lane Theatre, Congo Square, Fulton Theatre, MSMT, Sacramento Music Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre, The Barn, The Kennedy Center, Arkansas Repertory, Chicago Children Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Porchlight Music Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre D.C., Milwaukee Repertory, Peninsula Players, Paper Mill Playhouse, Dallas Theatre Center and ASOLO Repertory. She is the recipient of nine Jeff Awards, four Black Theatre Alliance, an After Dark, John Barrymore, RAMI, two Helen Hayes, two Black Excellence, Kathryn V. Lampkey, Ovation, Excellence in the Arts, 2016 Rosetta LeNoire, Sarah Siddons Leading Lady and Guy Adkins Awards. She was also named a 2011 Lunt-Fontanne Fellow. She was inducted into the National Women in the Arts Museum in Washington DC and recently released her first House and Club single in Milan, Italy, “Down to the Rhythm.” Proud AEA member.
Felton Offard (Music Man/Our Band) grew up in Freeport Illinois and attended Northern Illinois University, earning both Bachelor and Master of Music degrees. Goodman productions include Purlie and Crowns. Other Chicago area productions include Hamilton (Private Bank Theatre); The Color Purple (Cadillac Palace); Addams Family, First Wives Club, Motown (Ford Oriental); Sister Act (Marriott ); Could It Be Magic? (Mercury Theatre); Raisin (Court Theatre); Blue Brothers (CCPA); Comfortable Shoes (Royal George Theatre); Grease (Auditorium Theatre). Touring credits include Jersey Boys, Three Mo ’Divas, Flashdance, Standing In The Shadows Of Motown and Come Fly Away/Fly With Me. Regional theatre include Come Fly With Me (Alliance Theatre).
ABOUT CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT
The Chicago Park District has served Chicago residents for more than 85 years. It is a Gold Medal Award-winning organization, which recognizes excellence in park and recreation management across the nation. For more information about the Chicago Park District’s more than 8,800 acres of parkland, more than 600 parks, 26 miles of lakefront, 12 museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons, nearly 50 nature areas, thousands of special events, sports and entertainment programs, please visit www.chicagoparkdistrict.com or contact the Chicago Park District at 312/742.PLAY or 312/747.2001 (TTY). Want to share your talent? Volunteer in the parks by calling, 312/742.PLAY. Follow us at Facebook/chicagoparkdistrict, on Instagram/chicagoparks and on Twitter @chicagoparks.
ABOUT GOODMAN THEATRE
Chicago’s theater since 1925, Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit arts and community organization in the heart of the Loop, distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and community engagement. Led by Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the theater’s artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics. Artists and productions have earned two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards and more than 160 Jeff Awards, among other accolades. The Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” Its longtime annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, now in its fourth decade, has created a new generation of theatergoers in Chicago. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production and program partner with national and international companies and Chicago’s Off-Loop theaters.
As a cultural and community organization invested in quality, diversity and community, Goodman Theatre is committed to using the art of theater for a better Chicago. Using the tools of the theatrical profession, the Goodman’s Education and Engagement programs aim to develop generations of citizens who understand the cultures and stories of diverse voices. The Goodman’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is the home of these programs, which are offered free of charge for Chicago youth—85% of whom come from underserved communities—schools and life-long learners.
Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, EdithMarie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.
Today, Goodman Theatre leadership also includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Steve Scott, Kimberly Senior, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. Jeff Hesse is Chairman of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Fran Del Boca is Women’s Board President and Megan McCarthy Hayes is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.