Tiffany Johnson, producing artistic director at Pyramid Theatre Company, will direct both of the company’s shows this season.
Brimming with her usual enthusiasm, Tiffany Johnson, producing artistic director of Pyramid Theatre Company, stopped by our office last week to fill us in on the company’s upcoming season. As Pyramid has done in previous years, it will present one classic and one contemporary play that depict different aspects of the African American experience.
“Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters’ First 100 years,” adapted from the best-selling memoir, tells the true story of centenarians Bessie and Sadie Delaney as the sisters reminisce about the challenges and joys of their lives. The women, whose father was born into slavery, experienced or witnessed many of the 20th century’s most dramatic events, such as the Jim Crow South, the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights era. They also both earned advanced college degrees and achieved professional prominence, unusual for black women of the time.
The two actors will address the audience, welcoming everyone to their home as they serve tea. “We wanted to create an atmosphere that’s inclusive,” notes Johnson, who is directing the show. “Having Our Say,” which the Chicago Tribune called “the best-ever dramatization of oral history,” runs June 12-21 at Stoner Theater in the Des Moines Civic Center.
Then on Aug. 7, Pyramid will open “Fairview,” which won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury. The widely acclaimed, provocative show explores black life—and white perceptions of it. It opens with a middle-class black family preparing a birthday dinner for Grandma, a seemingly typical situation that gets increasingly surreal as the family becomes the subject of commentary by unseen white voices. The show also involves breaking the “invisible fourth wall” between actors and audience, says Johnson, who will direct the show. “Fairview” runs through Aug. 17 at Stoner.
Tickets to both productions will be available starting March 17 through Des Moines Performing Arts: dmpo.org
. —Christine Riccelli