WomenArts Responds to Racism with Free Tickets To Civil Rights Opera

Philip Lima & Andrea Chinedu Nwoke

Philip Lima as “Pap” Hamer and Andrea Chinedu Nwoke as Fannie Lou Hamer in rehearsal.
Photo: Michael S. Gordon/The Republican.

In response to the recent racial harrassment incidents at Amherst Regional High School and elsewhere, WomenArts and Mount Holyoke College are reaching out to schools and community groups in Western Massachusetts to offer free and discount tickets to the East Coast premiere of Mary D. Watkins’ civil rights opera, Dark River: The Fannie Lou Hamer Story this Friday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m. and this Saturday, April 5 at 3:00 p.m. in Chapin Auditorium at Mount Holyoke College. If you work with a school or other community group that would be interested in tickets, please contact WomenArts.

We are producing this opera because we want to share the inspiring story of Fannie Lou Hamer, an African-American woman who stood up to bullies and bigots and became a national hero. The opera will provide historical context for the current incidents and a safe place to make an emotional connection to the issues.

We believe this is a situation where our community needs the arts. If we want to break the deep patterns of racism, we need to muster all of our creative energy and collective imagination. The best way to do that is through the arts.

We hope that those of you who can afford to purchase tickets or make a donation will do so, but we want to do our part to address the racial tensions in this community that we love, and no one who wants or needs to see this show will be turned away for lack of funds. You can donate to WomenArts to help subsidize the free tickets by clicking here.

Thanks to a generous grant from the South Hadley Arts Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, WomenArts is making free and discount tickets available to schools and community groups, so please contact WomenArts if you are interested.  The performances are appropriate for adults and mature teens.

Thanks to a generous grant from Mount Holyoke College, free tickets are available to all faculty, staff and students at Mount Holyoke College. The free tickets can be picked up in advance at the Blanchard Student Center on campus or at the door.

There are two performances only – this Friday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m. and this Saturday, April 5 at 3:00 p.m. in Chapin Auditorium in Mary Woolley Hall, Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA.

Where to Get Your Opera Tickets

The opera is this Friday and Saturday, April 4 & 5. Order your tickets now!!

Online:  Brown Paper Tickets –  http://darkriveropera.brownpapertickets.com

By Phone: 1-800-838-3006

In Person: Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Broadside Books in Northampton, and at Food for Thought Books in Amherst. (Cash or check sales only at the bookstores.)

Tickets will also be available at the door.

Ticket Prices Are:  Front Section: $20;  General Admission: $15; Students & Seniors: $10
Discounts of $2 off per ticket for groups of 8 or more!

About the Opera

Fifty years ago, Fannie Lou Hamer was one of the first African-Americans in Mississippi to register to vote. She stood up in the face of beatings, harassment, imprisonment, and death threats to secure voting rights for her people.

A unique blend of classical, gospel, blues, and jazz styles, “Dark River: The Fannie Lou Hamer Story” brings to life one of the most turbulent periods in American history through the story of an inspiring female activist and leader. The opera explores Fannie Lou Hamer’s decision to fight for her rights, her challenges, her triumphs, and the impact of her activism on her husband and children.

Directed by Darryl V. Jones, the opera will feature Andrea Chinedu Nwoke as Fannie Lou Hamer, Philip Lima as Pap Hamer, and Miguel Angel Vasquez, Matt Chastain, Farah Darliette, Melynda Davis, Thandiwe Delgado-Kinyatti, Ernest Jackson, Robert King, Synthia Pullum, Aaron Reeder, Craig Simonetti, Robert Stahley, Matthew Stansfield, Mauri Tetreault, Maya Starr Ward, and the 42-piece Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ng Tian Hui.

For more information about the opera including a plot synopsis and audio clips, please visit www.DarkRiverOpera.org .