Ali-Coleman, a 2012 recipient of the Top Forty Under 40 award in the Arts & Humanities by the Prince George's County Social Innovation Fund conceived of the production after listening to an interview from 1966 with the late Lena Horne. "Lena Horne's story is incredible and led me to understand that many entertainers and creatives in this country led double lives as social activists," Ali-Coleman says.
The 50-minute production showcases the voices and views of Lucille Clifton, Zora Neale Hurston, Katherine Dunham, Lena Horne, Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. Their monologues have been inspired or taken from their own words spoken in interviews and concerts and speak to their work as social activists.
The seven-member ensemble cast includes returning cast members and new actors who are rising stars within the DC arts community. Hip-hop artist and actress Dior Ashley Brown portrays writer Zora Neale Hurston this season. Brown, a trained performance artist who has studied under the direction of Scot Reese at the University of Maryland and is also a graduate of Washington DC's illustrious Duke Ellington School of the Performing Arts, has performed on stages across the country as an actor and music performer. She is founder of Lavender Luminaries and Lavender Luminary Nights, a Washington DC arts network, that includes unique live performances, industry parties, events, and productions.
When asked why she decided to work on the In Her Words production, she said, "Theatre is important in learning about historical figures because it is preservation of our stories.Through historical theatre, we can be inspired, changed and brought together."
The In Her Words production debuted in 2012 at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library in Washington DC with subsequent presentations that year including the United States Peace Corps headquarters, with the show livestreamed to Peace Corps locations around the world. In 2013, the tour of the production included stops within the Prince George’s Maryland Public Library System and Alexandria Virginia Public Library System.
This year, the production will return to Maryland, Washington DC and Virginia with tour stops to include the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum and Northern Virginia Community College. The dates, times and locations will be uploaded on the production's website InHerWordsTour.com by Feb. 28. On March 1, a sneak peek of the performance will be featured at the event Natural Woman: A Collage of Female Creativity. Visit InHerWordsTour.com to learn more and purchase tickets.