McCurdy weaves together four stories for a masterpiece
When Leslie McCurdy debuted her award-winning performance of Harriet Tubman, the response was uplifting. Those words of praise, though, were quickly followed by a challenge she was willing to accept.
“Students especially told me, ‘That’s a cool way to tell history,’” says McCurdy, “‘can you tell another one?’”
With that encouragement, McCurdy embarked on a journey to write “Things My Fore-Sisters Saw,” to be performed Monday, Sept. 10, for the Four Arts Club in Elkhart. The show, performed by McCurdy in the one-woman format, follows the incredible lives of four African-American women - all Canadians, all leaders of societal change.
“It’s important history, revealed as personal experiences,” says McCurdy, who returns to the Four Arts stage after a stunning performance of Tubman in 2015. “Surviving as a black person in Canada, in the United States - these are shared experiences … and shared history, as we move toward respect, equality, and rights for people.”
The histories of the women portrayed in “Fore-Sisters” - slave Marie-Joseph Angelique, police officer Rose Fortune, newspaper publisher Mary Ann Shadd and businesswoman Viola Desmond - were not easy to come by. McCurdy says she spent hundreds of hours researching each and that, because of their race and the attitudes of the day, historical texts and newspaper articles weren’t always at hand. “They weren’t even relegated to books,” she says.
Mostly, the women tell their stories in monologue form, though McCurdy notes one is presented in press conference style with audience participation.
“Things My Fore-Sisters Saw,” received Canadian recognition for best new play upon its release, and the actress twice has been recognized as performer of the year in Ontario. A graduate of the University of Michigan, McCurdy desired a career in dance until a serious hip injury made her change course. She now performs throughout North America.
“It’s been steady work for me for over 20 years,” she says. “I eke out a living, I can eat, and I’m able to be an artist. That’s incredible.”
For information on attending the Four Arts Club presentation, visit FourArtsElkhart.com.