University of Pittsburgh
March 4, 2004

Pitt's Kuntu Repertory Theatre Presents Dark Cowgirls & Prairie Queens March 18 Through April 3


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH—Pitt's Kuntu Repertory Theatre (KRT) continues its theme of stories from the American West with its upcoming production, Dark Cowgirls & Prairie Queens, March 18 through April 3. Performances are held at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays in the Seventh-Floor Auditorium of Alumni Hall, 4227 Fifth Ave., in Oakland. KRT is part of Pitt's Department of Africana Studies.

Set in the Old West between 1830 and 1890, this work dramatizes the lives of seven legendary Black women who played an important role in the westward expansion of our nation. They include Mary "Black Mary" Fields, a stagecoach driver who ran her own laundry business; sculptress Edmonia "Little Wildfire" Lewis, who enlisted the help of a Black attorney in her fight for freedom; and Biddy "Grandma" Mason, a slave who gained freedom for herself and her family through the courts in California. Other women depicted include Mary Ellen "Mammy" Pleasant and Julia Boulette, remembered as "the Queen of Virginia City."

Dark Cowgirls & Prairie Queens is directed by KRT Founder and Artistic Director Vernell Lillie, associate professor in Pitt's Department of Africana Studies, and was written by Linda Parris-Bailey, executive director and artistic director of Carbetbag Theatre in Knoxville, Tenn., one of the oldest professional Black theater companies in the Southeast. A native of Queens, N.Y., Parris-Bailey began acting and directing while in high school. She has a number of writing, directing, and acting credits with Carpetbag Theatre, and conducts nationwide workshops for theater artists on how they can use drama-based techniques to tell their stories.

Cast members of Dark Cowgirls & Prairie Queens include Benjamin Blakey, Marcia Jones, Mayme A. Williams, Barbara Alexander, Christina Acousta, and Leslie "Ezra" Smith.

Ticket prices range from $12 to $20. For additional information, call 412-624-7298.