By Cheryl L. West
September 23 – October 4, 2020
“When I liberate myself, I liberate you!”
After opening our season digitally with the critically-acclaimed solo show Feast. (streaming now through September 20), the Know presents Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It!, a brand-new, live, and in-person outdoor theatrical experience.
After a lifetime of agitating for civil rights on the highest platforms in our land, the incredible Fannie Lou Hamer is coming to a neighborhood near you to share her passion for justice – and maybe pass on a spark of her flame.
To vote is to hope.
Fannie Lou Hamer, the midcentury activist for voting, civil, and women’s rights, comes to life in Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It!, a traveling production that recreates Fannie’s famous civil-rights rallies. Fannie is bringing her pickup truck and her Music Man to a parking lot near you to share her journey from sharecropper to activist, sing her favorite old-school spirituals with you, and empower you to be the fearless firebrand she knows you can be.
This production is directed by Derek Snow, who has appeared regularly on the Know’s stage since 2007’s The Pillowman. Derek says, “Fannie Lou has always been one of my personal sheroes, and I enjoy the fact that not too many people are instantly familiar with her name and what she accomplished. Now is the perfect time to ‘edu-tain’ people about her life and the lives of so many who shed blood to insure my right to vote. This piece speaks to the need for vigilance as it relates to voting rights, and manages to also be a beautiful play about determination and never being too old to reinvent yourself.” The Know also welcomes Elizabeth Leigh Taylor as Fannie and Nathan Singer, of the local band the Whiskey Shambles, as the Music Man, both in their Know Theatre debuts.
The performance will happen entirely outdoors, with Fannie holding her rally from the bed of her pickup truck. She’ll be visiting parking lots in Over-the-Rhine, Downtown, Price Hill, Covington, and more around the greater Cincinnati area; for a full schedule and to find a performance near your neighborhood, visit our website.
Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It! will be a pay-what-you-can production. Advance tickets will be available for reservation for various donation levels at knowtheatre.com; the Know also gladly welcomes donations in cash or via PayPal or Venmo for those who wish to walk up. All patrons will be asked to wear masks, and maintain a distance of at least six feet from those outside their party as often as possible. One performance will be available as an internet livestream; the date of that performance is yet to be announced.
Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It! was commissioned and developed by Goodman Theatre and Seattle Repertory Theatre. It was originally directed by Henry Godinez and features musical arrangements by Felton Offard. The Know Theatre’s production will run concurrently with Goodman Theatre’s, which will tour the Chicago area.
In the spirit of Fannie’s activism, the Know Theatre is partnering with The Greater Cincinnati Voter Collaborative to conduct voter registration drives at every performance. We’re offering this show as “Pay What You Can” so that as many people can take part as possible, and so we are also asking our community to step up and help make this project happen with individual donations. If you want to help bring voter registration and an inspiring story of empowerment to local communities, please visit knowtheatre.com/support to make a gift in support of this project today.
Join Fannie Lou Hamer and the Know Theatre in a neighborhood near you to check your voting registration, get charged up for civic engagement, and get to work changing the world.
- Elizabeth Leigh Taylor as Fannie
- Nathan Singer as Music Man
- Director: Derek Snow
- Scenic Designer: Andrew J. Hungerford
- Costume Designer: Noelle Wedig-Johnston
- Sound Designer: Douglas J. Borntrager
- Props Designer: Kayla Williams
- Stage Manager: Meghan Winter
- Technical Director: Henry Bateman
AT A GLANCE
- Production: Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It! by Cheryl L. West
- Dates: Sept 23 – Oct 4, 2020
- Where: Parking lots around Cincinnati
- Tickets: This is a pay-what-you-can production. Advance tickets are available for various donation levels at knowtheatre.com; we also accept donations in person for walk-up tickets.
Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It! is made possible by Guest Artist Sponsor Judge (Ret.) Mark P. Painter. Additional community support comes from the Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile, Jr./US Bank Foundation, Price Hill Arts Connection, The Rodenberg Family Foundation, and Sophia McAllister.
Know Theatre is Cincinnati’s Theatrical Playground. The Know showcases unexpected voices, new works, and plays that embrace the inherent theatricality of the live experience. Know Theatre seeks to be a place where artists and audiences feel welcome to take artistic risks, creating work that is cutting edge and accessible.
Know Theatre’s work is made possible, in part, by the generosity of community contributions to the ArtsWave Campaign.
The Ohio Arts Council helps fund Know Theatre with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.
Know Theatre is also supported by The Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, helping to change our communities for the better through collaboration and innovation, and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, which provides a simple, powerful, and highly personal approach to giving.
Know Theatre is a member of Theatre Communications Group and an Associate Member of the National New Play Network.