One woman play, Black Notes, to perform at Kent State

Stephanie Martoccia

Black Notes, a one-woman play about the Black experience through history, will be performed by author Mary Weems at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Oscar Ritchie Hall.

Black Notes is a monologue dynamic that covers the African people’s perspective over a broad period of time, ranging from slavery to recent events in police brutality said Michael Daniels, program coordinator for the Student Multicultural Center.

“They are really powerful experiences that she’s trying to capture in her performance,” Daniels said.

Weems is visiting Kent State as part of her national tour.

At the event, students will be engaged in an interactive performance from Weems. There will be student performances as well as refreshments, copies of Weem’s book Blackeyed Plays and Monologues for sale and a book signing.

“We want to enhance knowledge of African American culture since that is a big piece of what her work is,” Daniels said.” We want to help to educate and inform our students around social issues on race, gender and class because a lot of this performance is rooted in those ideas.”

According to Daniels, her performance will ask the audience to use their imagination and engage with her performance. She communicates with audience members to create a once in a lifetime experience.

“I use my abilities as a poet, playwright, performer and qualitative researcher to create work that encourages people from all walks of life to think more critically about social issues, including racism, sexism and homophobia,” Weems said.

“By combining historical data with my experiences and the experiences of other Black people, I have constructed a performance that explores the complexities of the Black experience in a way educates, entertains and encourages critical reflection, dialogue and action,” Weems said

The event’s programmers encourage all students to come and engage with Weems for them to view social issues in a different way.

“We hope that from this performance, students can critically examine social and cultural dynamics through creative expression, because this is the only time I have seen this done like this,” Daniels said.

Although she has her hopes, Weems believes that everyone will take away something different from her performance.

At the Ohio Multicultural Center Educators conference last fall, Daniels asked Weems to perform at Kent State. He knew her prior to the conference as a professor at John Carroll University.

According to Daniels, the SMC programmers wanted Weems to perform as part of black history month, but over programming stood in the way. Her performance is now part of the celebration for women’s history month.

“She is one of the biggest reasons I went into education. I took a multicultural education class with her when I was a senior in college and it really changed my perspective on things. So when I saw her at this conference, it was almost serendipitous how we crossed paths again,” Daniels said.

“I’ve been touring with this show since 2015 and each audience member who has engaged the work has learned something different depending upon which one of the ‘Black Notes’ resonates with them based upon their own experiences,” Weems said.

The event is free for the public to attend with the help of the Student Multicultural Center, Center for Student Involvement, Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Division of Student Affairs, Pan African Studies, Trio SSS and the McNair Scholars Program according to Daniels.

Stephanie Martoccia is a diversity reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].