BLACK TO MY ROOTS
nytheatre.com review by Sarah Wolfman-Robichaud
Picture a blank stage, a few stools, and a storybook waiting to be read.
Now, add five beautifully alive women, soulful music with the opening
lyrics "Pick your ass up, daddy, ’cause it’s flat on one side," and a
script written by so many creative minds that not only every young black
girl should hear it, but everyone with a "head and a heart." Black to
my Roots weaves a lovely message out of its twelve tales of black
hair (yes, hair). Siblings Tyrone and Reneschia Brown brought this show
into existence after a conversation about how hair is actually a
metaphor for life. After winning well-deserved international awards, New
York should be happy and proud to welcome this show to its stage.
August 15, 2003
Post-thoughts of this performance would not be complete without paying close attention to the strengths and specialties of its actresses. Camille Y. Kennedy opens the show by gracefully pounding into your mind her own story of why she shaved off all her hair and looked at her "face first." Wilna Julmiste and Michelle Robinson both approach the stage with a comfortable apprehension, but soon tell personal tales that seem like they’ve simply invited you over for coffee just to chat. Laura Malone leads the group in sexy song, touching monologues, and the occasional grinding hip that makes you smile. And, resonating into higher decibels than the rest, is the earth mother of the group, Kathya Alexander. Alexander, who wrote many of the pieces in the show, glistens, glows, and flies in her youthful story of learning how to swim, and makes all of us squirm just a bit when "Mama" says that our hair belongs to her.
As an ensemble, the women form an untouchable yet familial power. As a new play, Black to my Roots should not be missed. You’ll walk away trying to describe your hair (or yourself) in one word, dancing down the street, and you’ll thank these women, the Browns, and everyone involved for making you realize that every strand of hair on your head is just as important as the next.