The new season for St. Paul’s Penumbra Center for Racial Healing opens with the premiere of “Re-Memori,” by playwright Nambi E. Kelley. Directed by Penumbra’s Arts Director Chris Berry and starring Shá Cage, the one-woman show tells the story of Memori Brooks, a beautician and healer, as she navigates ancestral dreams that create a powerful storyline. Kelley’s drama weaves individual stories with the broader narrative of American history.
As a hairdresser who helps Black women find beauty after losing their hair, Memori takes audiences on a journey that explores historical family narratives by telling the stories of Black ancestral heritage through Memori’s own lens, and that of Cordelia, Seaton and Malik.
“As we embark on the opening of the 47th season, I look forward to walking in the organization’s legacy while unveiling world premieres locally and nationally,” said Arts Director Chris Berry in a September 7 press release.
“This marks a pivotal moment in our ongoing journey towards fostering racial healing, belonging, and growth within and beyond our institution. Artists who have never worked at Penumbra will be here, providing the Twin Cities with a fresh perspective on groundbreaking work.
“With respect to ‘Re-Memori,’ it’s just beautiful to think of the idea of having Black ancestry guide how we dream into the future.”
In addition, every Thursday night the production will include post-show dialogue that delves into the themes of “Re-Memori,” to enhance the audience’s theatergoing experience. These talks will offer unique insights into the artistic process and the play’s messaging, as well as explore the crucial role of beauty salons and barbershops as safe havens for the Black community.
Conversations with the creative team will help enrich the audience’s understanding of key scenes in the play and explore the psychological and emotional dimensions of ancestral memory and how African American history imprints itself on our present and future.
This year, Penumbra is also introducing “Live Out Loud Nights” designed for millennials and Generation Z audiences, to provide opportunities to enjoy pre-show receptions, a more casual theater experience, and enjoy post-show discussions with artists and community.
The first “Live Out Loud Night” will be Thursday, October 19, 2023, where audiences are encouraged to be energized and vocal during the performance, bring questions about the performance, meet new people, exchange learnings, and enjoy food and beverages. Tickets are available on the website, and are $25 using the AffinityFY24 code or by opting for a monthly membership with a complimentary ticket. The “Live Out Loud Nights” offer affordable theater events designed for ages 21-45.
“Re-Memori” opens on Thursday, October 12, and continues through Sunday, November 5. Previews are on October 10 and 11. Tickets range in price from $20 for students/youth to $45 for adults and are on sale through the box office at 651-224-3180 and online at penumbratheatre.org.