Chitlin Blues: Dancing in the Grey

dance & physical theatre · theatre roscius · Ages 14+ · United States

family friendly world premiere
Add Your Review


June 12, 2014 original article

My overall impression

Originally posted on Bitter Lemons – “Fringe Femmes” |

Chitlin’ Blues: Dancing in the Grey”
concept by Constance Strickland |

It’s pretty amazing: the unspoken power of a actor wearing blackface. Constance Strickland is, obviously, well aware of its impact and uses this and other powerful images to put together an amazing, “eclectic mix of physical theatre & vaudeville.” The result is a haunting, visceral study of race and gender that is at once disturbing and absolutely beautiful.

Within Chitlin’ Blues, Strickland and Memory Willis take on many roles, from male minstrel performers to seductive burlesque dancers to domestic partners. They’re joined onstage by Ruth Reynolds as Lillie, a pale, fragile figure in underclothes who looks as if she’s been plucked from a turn-of-the-(last)-century whorehouse, and Guebri J’aigle VanOver as the (almost) always composed, whiter-than-white Fancy Eve.

Whether it’s singing “Coon” songs from the 1890s; embarking on a comic, politically charged diatribe; adding a dangerous edge to our need for "Old Time Religion”; or inhabiting choreography that captures a sense of desperation and embodies terrifying struggles; together, these four women are able to wonderfully blur all sorts of lines. And make us think about what it means to be black, white and a woman.

- See more at:

Was this review helpful? yes · no