A Lady and A Woman by Shirlene Holmes

ladyandawoman-020513March being the month that celebrates both women and theater, the Works by Women San Francisco team hosted our fifth Meetup event at Theatre Rhinoceros’s Bay Area premiere of Shirlene Holmes’ A Lady and A Woman (running March 7-24 at the Eureka Theatre).

The play is about hope, devotion and the gifts awarded to the bold and true of heart. African-American playwright Holmes’ critically-acclaimed love story recounts the courage of African-American women in the late 19th century using folklore and interlocking themes of spirituality and sexuality in the setting of a small southern town to tell the story of two women who find in each other the courage to begin a new life.

Holmes’s play is set in the 1890s and has been lauded for not just being ahead of its time, but also for its celebration of compassion, spirituality , friendship and love between two women. The lead actresses who portray the two titular women, Biddie (Dawn L Troupe) and Miss Flora (Velina Brown) are Bay Area favorites as well as members of Actors’ Equity Association.

In the book Amazon All-Stars: Thirteen Lesbian Plays, in the introduction to A Lady and A Woman, Willa J Taylor lauds Holmes for her courage and writes: “Focusing on the blossoming relationship between a butch and a femme, Holmes’ play melds the southern folklore of early Black theater with the exploration of sexual roles, desires and discovery that so often informs queer and lesbian theater. For a new generation of Black lesbians whose only media images are straight actors playing gay, this is a piece to be admired for its honesty. For an older generation accustomed to looking at ourselves in the images of others, it is a play to be cherished. For anyone interested in good drama, it is a play to be treasured and performed”.

Theatre Rhino’s 2012-13 season is celebrating “thirty-five years of theatre! Please join us for an exciting new season of provocative, entertaining LGBT plays.” For more on the season and the plays, visit Theatre Rhino.

Please enjoy this short video of the playwright talking about the play:

If you were part of the Meetup group, do share your feedback with us in the comments. If you’d like to share some suggestions on the meetup, we welcome that as well.

Thanks, and we look forward to seeing you at our April Meetup – Symmetry Theatre’s production of Julia Cho’s The Language Archives on Sunday, April 21 at 2pm in the Berkeley City Club.

2 responses to “A Lady and A Woman by Shirlene Holmes

  1. The acting was fantastic in this production and watching the relationship between the characters grow was enjoyable. I appreciated the folk/country wisdom that was a big part of the world of the play and I was very moved by the unamplified a capella singing incorporated into the show. Both Velina and Dawn have great voices and to hear them un-adorned was a real treat!!

  2. What a stunning show! It may be the first and only time I have seen a play featuring two African American women. Velina Brown and Dawn L. Troupe both give deeply nuanced and compelling performances. Shirlenne Holmes’ script brings their intimate relationship to life with such tenderness, humor, and truth. I wish everyone could see this play!

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