$15 – $79

"Scenes and Songs from FANNIE LOU" at Yale University

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Woolsey Hall

500 College Street

New Haven, CT 06511

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Voting Rights Activist Fannie Lou Hamer To Be Celebrated at Yale’s Woolsey Hall
Event to Feature Fannie Lou Musical Performers, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, Community Leaders

One hundred years ago, in a rural Southern town where black lives mattered not nearly enough, a child was born to husband-and-wife sharecroppers. She would be the last of the couple’s 20 children. They named her
Fannie Lou.

Fannie Lou Hamer

Like her parents, and brothers and sisters before her, Fannie Lou was conscripted to constant field work so the family could survive economically. She started at age 6, and dropped out of school at 12 to help out the family even more. But that was her early life. Years later she would reject the ingrained cultural patterns that severely restricted the lives of African Americans, and boldly dare to unearth a different destiny for herself as a grassroots spokesperson, civil rights activist and voting rights advocate.

On Sunday, Oct. 1, at Yale University’s historic Woolsey Hall, the centennial of Fannie Lou Hamer’s birth will be celebrated with a special presentation of excerpts from the acclaimed musical Fannie Lou. The event, titled “Scenes and Songs from Fannie Lou: Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of a Voting Rights Heroine,” will take place from 3 to 5 p.m.

In addition to Fannie Lou Musical cast members and musicians, event participants will include New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, Greater New Haven NAACP President Doris Dumas and Stamford NAACP President Jack Bryant, among others TBA. Along with the performance, the event will feature pre-performance discussions about Fannie Lou Hamer’s work, legacy and the period during which she lived; and a post-performance Q and A session.

The one-afternoon-only event is being presented in partnership with the Greater New Haven NAACP, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary as well.

“I’m delighted that Mayor Harp, President Dumas and President Bryant will be part of this wonderful celebration,” said Felicia Hunter, creator of Fannie Lou Musical. “And the fact that the NAACP is celebrating its centennial in the same year that we’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of Fannie Lou Hamer’s birth nothing other than serendipity.

“Fannie Lou Hamer’s life demonstrates that one person can make a difference. It is a living testimony to the strength of the human spirit over adversity. She was a woman of the people who operated at the grassroots level, and it is an honor that such esteemed community leaders as Mayor Harp, President Dumas and President Bryant will be part of this special event celebrating her life and legacy.”

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp

A former New Haven alderman and Connecticut state senator, Mayor Harp has long been recognized for her civil and human rights efforts, and as a tireless advocate constantly seeking to enhance citizens’ quality of life. In 2013 she was elected New Haven’s first female mayor. She also is only the second African American to serve as the Elm City’s chief elected official. She has been recognized by numerous civic, community and professional organizations, and was lauded by the U.S. Congress in 1996.

Greater New Haven NAACP President Doris Dumas

Dumas also made history with the office she holds. In 2014 she became the first elected female president of the Greater New Haven NAACP. Lauded for her leadership qualities, she is particularly interested in serving members in the areas of transportation, the education gap and home ownership. The NAACP’s support of voter registration has always been a major focus, and Dumas wants her local branch to continue its strong emphasis on voter education and utilizing the power of the ballot.

Stamford NAACP President Jack Bryant

Bryant's roles with the Stamford NAACP have ranged from youth adviser, to 1st vice president, to his current position as president. He has forged partnerships with a number of community organizations and spearheaded programs for area youth, focusing particularly on academics, personal enhancement and college preparation. The Stamford NAACP credits Bryant’s strong and effective leadership for helping transform the organization from a reactive to a proactive entity.

Born Oct. 6, 1917, Fannie Lou Hamer grew up poor and uneducated. However, she refused allow her circumstances to define her. In the summer of 1962, in an environment in which black people were intimidated to the point where their lives were threatened if they attempted to vote, Hamer decided she would exercise that Constitutional right. The Ruleville, Miss., resident joined a contingent of other black Mississippians who travelled to the county seat to register. They were turned away. But shutting the door on their efforts that day in effect opened the door to Fannie Lou Hamer’s activism. After that incident, she persisted until she was finally allowed to register. Not only did she vote, but she also later ran for office. She attracted national attention in 1964, when she testified before the Democratic National Convention’s Credentials Committee, and is among those whose efforts influenced the passage and signing, by President Lyndon Johnson, of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Fannie Lou Hamer fought tirelessly for voting and other civil and human rights needs for the rest of her life. Her activism came at a price, however. In addition to withstanding violence and death threats, she was faced with a number of health problems that included diabetes, hypertension and cancer. She died in 1977 at age 59.

“Fannie Lou Hamer’s courage and perseverance were amazing,” said Hunter, who was inspired to write her original musical after reading a biography about Hamer. “Imagine living in a time when you couldn’t determine your own life, when you didn’t dare dream of aspirations that, because of your race, or gender, or class, or social status, or economic limitations, were far beyond your grasp. When city or state ordinance dictated you couldn’t even drink from a public water fountain because of the color of your skin.

“Fannie Lou Hamer dedicated her life to breaking through such imposed barriers, not only for African Americans, but for all people. And she knew that exercising the right to vote is a key element of self-determination and being able to achieve one’s goals.”

Felicia Hunter, Fannie Lou Musical Creator (Photo by Harold Shapiro)

Fannie Lou musical is an artwork of fact-based fiction that depicts the early stages of Hamer’s activism through her character and several fictional characters who represent various ways of thinking about the voting rights movement. In addition to Fannie Lou, there is Rev. Hill, leader of the local voting rights movement; Junior, a teenager whose own tragic past makes him skeptical about the adults’ voting rights activities; Laura, who is realistic yet hopeful – until her dreams for her son are cruelly dashed; Pamela, a college student from the North who has come to Ruleville to volunteer with the voting rights effort; Mr. Richards, the wealthiest man in the county – and a staunch segregationist; among other characters.

“Even though the action takes place more than 50 years ago, I wanted the musical to be relevant for 21st-century audiences, and especially for young people,” said Hunter.

Audience reaction suggests that she achieved that goal. Fannie Lou and its sister production “Scenes and Songs from Fannie Lou” -- which features, in concert format, selected music and dialogue from the full-length production – have been met with standing ovations and rave audience reviews since the first public performance in Stamford, Conn., in 2011. Since then it has been performed before a variety of audiences in an array of venues, from a community arts center in Washington, DC, to a college campus in New York City, to the internationally renowned Carnegie Hall.

Post-performance audience comments have especially praised the original music in Fannie Lou. Audiences cite the musical’s songs, in addition to seeing the story of Fannie Lou Hamer enacted on the stage, as having a lasting impact.

Featured performers for the Oct. 1 event include Blake Allen, Aaron Boscanin,
Torian Brackett, Dorothy Chan, Cameron Draper, Ben Marcus, Michael Moss,
Jessica Raymonvil, Emily Senkowsky, Karen Stefano, Desi Waters,
Angela Watson-Modeste, Amber Yi-Wen Ho and Hanna Elizabeth Young.
Click on a name to view that performer's bio from last year's production at
Hunter College in New York City.

More information about Fannie Lou Musical, including how to get free downloads of some of the original songs in the production and additional information about Fannie Lou Hamer, can be found on the show’s website, www.fannieloumusical.com.


Purchase Tickets for the Oct. 1 “Scenes and Songs from Fannie Lou” Event
A Celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Fannie Lou Hamer’s Birth

Thank you for choosing to join us for the Oct. 1 celebration of Fannie Lou Hamer’s life and legacy!

“Scenes and Songs from Fannie Lou: Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of a Voting Rights Heroine” is a not-for-profit event. A limited number of tickets currently are available for pre-order at a discounted rate. Please note that all proceeds will be either applied to production costs or donated to the Greater New Haven NAACP to support voting-rights activities. All are welcome, and tickets are priced so that anyone who wants to attend the event can. Thank-you gifts accompany most tickets.

Rates are as follows:

$10 preorder [originally $15, minus $5 preorder discount]

$19 preorder [originally $25, minus $6 preorder discount]

$25 preorder [originally $35, minus $10 preorder discount] Ticket purchase includes a signed script.

$35 preorder [originally $45, minus $10 preorder discount] Ticket purchase includes a signed script and a signed CD of songs from the INSIDE TRACKS series.

$59 premium preorder [originally $65, minus $6 preorder discount] Ticket purchase includes a signed script; a signed CD of songs from the INSIDE TRACKS series; prime seating in your preference of front 2/3 of center main floor area or front first balcony; and an invitation to a reception with cast, creatives and presenters immediately following the performance.

$65 premium preorder [originally $79, minus $14 preorder discount] Ticket purchase includes a signed script; a signed CD of songs from the INSIDE TRACKS series; prime seating in your preference of front 1/3 of center main floor area or front first balcony; an invitation to a reception with cast, creatives and presenters immediately following the performance; and a free copy of the Fannie Lou Musical commemorative book ($30 retail value) highlighting performances, casts and other details since the first public production in 2011.

Each ticket also carries a small administrative fee.

Tickets will be mailed after July 1, unless Will Call or another arrangement is preferred.

How to Get the Preorder Discount:

To purchase a Preorder ticket, click on the green Tickets box. Choose where you’d like to sit and select the appropriate ticket – for example, Main Floor Left -- and the number of tickets you'd like. Click the blue "Enter Promotional Code" phrase and in the resulting box type the word Preorder and the original cost of the ticket. For example if you’d like a $25 ticket (original cost) in the Main Floor Left section, after choosing Main Floor Left and the $25 original cost, type: Preorder25
The $6 preorder discount will automatically be taken, and you will be charged only $19 for the ticket.

In addition, for those who wish, your ticket purchase will include a donation to the Greater New Haven NAACP, to support its voting-rights initiatives. For the donation to be made on your behalf, please add NAACP to your ticket choice. The amount donated will be as follows:

$2 of $10 preorder ticket

$4 of $19 preorder ticket

$5 of $25 preorder ticket

$10 of $35 preorder ticket

$15 of $59 preorder ticket

$20 of $65 preorder ticket.

So, if you want to make a NAACP donation and are getting a $45 (original price) ticket in the Main Floor Center section, make your seat selection and type the following in the promotional code prompt: Preorder45NAACP
Your preorder discount and NAACP donation will automatically apply. You will be charged $35 for your ticket, and Fannie Lou Musical will donate $10 of that to the NAACP on your behalf.

Unless you request anonymity, the NAACP will receive a notice about your contribution that will include your name and the amount donated.

For more information about Fannie Lou Hamer and Fannie Lou Musical, please visit www.fannieloumusical.com

Want a premium ticket that will put you in one of the best seats in the house but don't require extra amenities? Preorder a "no frills" premium ticket (seating in the main floor center section, but no added gifts and no post-performance reception) for less than half the cost. Available through the end of May, limited number. Just scroll down to the bottom of the ticket-selection list and click on Premium30


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Woolsey Hall

500 College Street

New Haven, CT 06511

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