A photo of the playbill handed out at the theater. Inside is an in-depth look into the universe this world is set in. (Photo courtesy of Ellie Bruno)
Not too many people know the story of the Delany sisters, but the NC Conservatory is here to change that. The show is running until the 17th — at different times each day — in the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater, ‘Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years’ is a unique two-women show set in a single scene — the Delany sisters’ home. Not only does this play push the typical boundaries of production (the sisters had a working kitchen and cooked real meals throughout the show) but it also illuminated the dark history of segregation in North Carolina.
Based on the New York Times Best Selling novel, this play is an important historical story everyone should learn.
After a feature story in the The New York Times in 1991 exploded in popularity, author Amy Hill Hearth elaborated on her original article and worked with the sisters to narrate their triumphant but heartbreaking story. Having seen what the sisters witnessed — from both world wars, the introduction of Jim Crow laws, and the Great Depression — the pair gave a lot of insight into a past that many brush over. They remembered the segregated facilities, lynchings, and prejudice their family had to face. They dove into the backgrounds of their parents: Having a father who was freed from slavery at the age of 7, and a mom who could have passed as white offered an interesting mix of experiences. Their entire family faced this adversity head-on to overcome it and used their faith in family to make their own way.
The show itself was incredibly powerful. With such a limited cast, a huge weight sat on the actors — long lines and speeches were spoken completely with no mistakes; it was an incredible feat pulled by the pair, who also had great chemistry on stage. The set itself was intimate and homey, adding to the southern charm of the characters. Projectors displayed real photos of the family that tied the story even closer together and made it even more real.
Overall, this is a tear-jerking tale of adversity and pain, and the lasting impact of family bonds. These sisters are the best of what people can be and are a pair that North Carolina should be proud to have in its history. This is a story that everyone should witness in person to feel the weight of our states past.