I like to cry at good plays, great performances, moving sermons, quiet introspective moments and in the middle of massive crowds that transform themselves into harmonic singularity revealing quintessential oneness in the cosmos.
It is a good feeling.
And it is how I felt when I watched my 14-year-old grandniece, Lilie Rankin, and her phenomenal party of young warrior women, take center stage to illuminate their and our genius in the theater production, “Hidden Heroes,” which opened April 26 and runs through May 19 at Stages Theater in Hopkins, 1111 Mainstreet.
The production’s powerful premise propels audiences into the near and ancient past, and simultaneously into the near and eternal future. It reveals 1950s Jim Crow’s persistence as source for enfeebled brandishing of white supremacist cancer then, and now, in the White House and on the streets of Charlottesville, Va. and Falcon Heights.
But more importantly, it declares the inevitability and imminence of our victory through the work and message of these young and gifted actors, who both imbibe and enrobe a truth that is palpable, enlightening, refreshing and undeniable.
“Seeing reflections of ourselves in the brilliance and magic of our elders and ancestors is in part what this play and production are all about,” said “Hidden Heroes” director, Signe V. Harriday. “Hearing and experiencing these dynamic stories helps us all see our interconnectedness and I hope inspires our audiences to dream.”
“Hidden Heroes” is based on the book “Hidden Human Computers: The Black Women of NASA” by Sue Bradford Edwards and Macalester College professor, Dr. Duchess Harris, whose grandmother was in the group of the first 11 Black women recruited to work at NASA. The book is adapted to stage by performance impresario and playwright Shá Cage. The assemblage of Harris, Edwards, Harriday and Cage in collaboration with each other and with the phenomenal cast and crew amplifies the reality that this story, this production, is not just a great play, but a work that is personal, to many of us, on so many levels.
“Hidden Heroes” discusses how in the 1950s, Black women made critical contributions to NASA by performing calculations that made it possible for the nation’s astronauts to fly into space and return safety to Earth. The play examines the fierceness and confidence they exhibited as high schoolers, on a mission to enter NASA sponsored college programs.
“It is such an honor to bring Duchess Harris’ and Sue Bradford Edward’s amazing book to life for our audiences,” said Sandy Boren-Barrett, Stages Theatre Company artistic director. “My hope is that this production sparks the imagination of our audience and inspires them to believe they can do anything.”
The production takes audiences on a journey capturing the young girls’ brilliance, creativity, and imagination as they break barriers, accomplish the impossible, and become the courageous women who created opportunities that have influenced the industry of space exploration, mathematics and engineering. It makes us remember our ownership of science, mathematics and engineering by reconnecting to Dogon knowledge, African mapping of celestial bodies and movements. It reminded us that we decode the universe when we chant and dance children’s rhymes and when we play hoop physics and mathematics on the basketball court, like Michael Jordan.
“Hidden Heroes” shouts from the mountain the truth about the irrepressible brilliance of girls and women. And when you see these performers and experience their truth telling, you will know why.
Tickets are on sale now. Visit www.stagestheatre.org for specific performance dates and times or call the box office Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. at (952) 979-1111, option 4. Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for seniors, ages 60-plus and children. For more information go to bit.ly/STC-HiddenHeroes. Hidden Heroes is approximately 70 minutes with no intermission and is best enjoyed by children ages 7-plus and adults of all ages.