"The Clothesline Muse" travels the US in 2015

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    (Durham, NC)  The Clothesline Muse celebrates African American culture, women’s history, the Civil Rights struggle, and the emerging labor movement through original live music, emotive dance, brilliant visual art and projections.  The story is told through the complex relationship between old-school and new cool.

    (Durham, NC)  The Clothesline Muse celebrates African American culture, women’s history, the Civil Rights struggle, and the emerging labor movement through original live music, emotive dance, brilliant visual art and projections.  The story is told through the complex relationship between old-school and new cool.

    In this dramatic and poignant tale that explores the clothesline as a metaphor for our community lifeline and its ties to our environment,  Grandma Blu, an aging washerwoman and storyteller, desperately wants to share her clothesline legacy, part of the culture of the Old South, and her wisdom, before she passes on, with granddaughter Mary Mack. Mary, an emerging screenwriter, is a modern online woman who believes that speed and technology hold the keys to success. She is both a feminist and futurist wanting nothing to do with yesterday’s washing drudgery and stories. Their relationship and the social traditions it represents and the history it tells, are told in The Clothesline Muse, a journey through laughter, tears, dance, story, song, and struggle.

    The theatrical production was conceived by Dr. Kariamu Welsh and is directed by Rebecca Holderness. Kariamu Welsh's choreography transforms vernacular wash movements into poetic dance.  Two-time Grammy nominated jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon performs the role of Grandma Blu/The Clothesline Muse and is both storyteller and songstress, bringing her unique and stirring vocals to the self-penned original music.  Cloteal Horne plays the role of Mary Mack.

    This production is truly a family affair. Maya Freelon Asante, Nnenna’s daughter and Welsh’s daughter in-law, has created vibrant tissue paper art that acts as a kinetic sculpture representing strength, fragility and the stories that connect us to each other and to the generations before us.  “What makes this very special personally is that I wrote this in collaboration with Maya, my daughter, and Kariamu Welsh, her mother in law. It has been an amazing experience,” said Nnenna. “The piece is devised theater which means that it's pulled from a variety of sources- historical, first voice stories and memoirs and well as interviews we conducted.”

    There will also be community outreach in each market. Something Nnenna does at every possible opportunity. From children’s shows to college, community and other school visits, there will be workshops conversations, Q & A’s and other interaction to ensure that the messages portrayed in the performances will be serve as social, historical and cultural conduits.

    The Clothesline Muse was made possible with funding by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Theater Project, with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. www.nefa.org

    The Clothesline Muse is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by Painted Bride Art Center in partnership with St. Joseph's Historic Foundation, Inc./Hayti Heritage Center and NPN. The Creation Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). For more information: www.npnweb.org.

    The play begins a tour of the southeast and Midwestern United States on January 6, 2015 at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida.