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Archive for April, 2019

By Russell Magee

In celebration of Black History Month, Montgomery Community College was delighted
to showcase “Ain’t I a Woman!” a one-act, chamber-music, theatrical production put on by the
touring theater group, The Core Assemble and hosted by the OneMontco Unity Series. This large
celebration of black history month was brought to the campus by Jane Henderson, after she
attended this performance at another location. The production was so exceptional that Ms.
Henderson decided to bring it to MC3 for its yearly celebration of the uniqueness and diversity
of African American culture.
The show, in its entirety, is a searing and poignant glimpse into the lives of four
significant African-American women in history: Zora Neale Hurston, an influential author and
anthropologist; Clementine Hunter, a self-taught and prolific artist often referred to as the black
Grandma Moses; Fannie Lou Hamer, a women’s right activist and leader in the civil rights
movement; and, whose speech the play is named after, Sojourner Truth, a famous abolitionist,
writer, and women’s rights activist.
Each prominent figure was portrayed by the one, leading actress Shinnerrie Jackson,
whose performance was absolutely breathtaking. Jackson took the stage by storm, delivering
incredibly moving monologues depicting everything from the mundane and seemingly banal

aspects of life to the horribly brutal violence endured by countless African Americans during the
19 th and 20 th centuries. Jackson took the audience on a roller coaster of emotion; she was utterly
captivating.
A fantastic accompaniment to Jackson was the chamber trio of musicians that played
background music for each scene. The trio, comprised of a cellist, pianist, and percussionist,
played a variety of classic jazz tunes that ranged from Coltrane to Thelonious Monk, all in
keeping with the contemporary atmosphere of the show. The music provided an intangible layer
of sentiment to the show and emphasized elements of Jackson’s performance. In between scene
changes, the band kept the music going and improvised seamless transitions. It was quite
impressive. During Jackson’s performances, the band maintained a calm, underlying presence
that would grow in intensity corresponding to Jackson’s monologues. The final scene climaxed
in a beautiful hymn sung by Jackson that nearly brought the audience to tears.
“Ain’t I a Woman!” surpassed all expectations I had going into this performance. This
small, four-person performance amounted to the level of professionals, virtuosos in their own
degrees. Each of Jackson’s portrayals was an honest window into the societal, racial oppression
that these four African American women faced during their lifetimes. Her seething, emotionally-
charged soliloquies were not just paintings of four narratives but intricate, personal expressions,
vivid articulations of injustice and discontent. Jackson’s voice captured the lives of these four
women, and through her performance, the stories of these women were heard.
The text of “Ain’t I a Woman!” was written by Kim Hine, writer, and contributor to The
Core Ensemble. The Core Ensemble was founded in 1993 and is currently touring throughout the
country. They have a long list of past performances and an even longer list of accolades. For

more information on The Core Ensemble and their upcoming performances, go to their website:

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