HAVING OUR SAY opens as 103-year-old Sadie and 101-year-old Bessie Delany welcome us into their home in Mount Vernon, New York. We, the audience, are guests in their home as the sisters prepare dinner in remembrance of their father's birthday. As they bake a ham, stuff a chicken for roasting, and make ambrosia and pound cake, they recount a fascinating series of events and anecdotes drawn from their rich family history and their careers as pioneering African American professional women. They lived during the turbulent times for descendants of slaves that occurred just after the Civil War, and they continue into the present, doing daily yoga exercises and watching the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour each evening.
By means of the sisters' unique and candid storytelling abilities, the audience feels as if we have visited the Delanys' girlhood home on the campus of St. Augustine's School in Raleigh, North Carolina - one of the nation's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU's). The audience feels the sisters' frustration, anger, and pain as they come of age during the Jim Crow era, just as the audience mentally celebrates the sisters' successes as they overcome obstacles to rise to the top in their professions.
As HAVING OUR SAY unfolds, we witness the rise of middle income African Americans facing prejudice and discrimination in the South during and after slavery. We follow them at the turn of the last century as they move to Harlem just before the Roaring 20's. We follow them in Harlem during the Great Depression and through two world wars as they resolutely obtained their education in an environment hostile to women. This, then, is a story about the struggles of women in a male dominated society; of a family working together building a good life, as they serve others as good neighbors and set examples for the younger members of their family. Finally, it is a story about ordinary people who make extraordinary achievements, living as good citizens, actively engaged with life, voicing strong opinions about current events -- for more than 100 years.
We should all draw broadly from this play. This simple story about the struggles of two women typifies the essential human condition - of struggle and achievement, universal in its appeal and in the messages it sends.
Clearly, HAVING OUR SAY is our history. It celebrates women and men, African Americans, our country, and the indomitable human spirit.
It is a celebration of America's people.
For the English language stock and amateur stage performance rights of HAVING OUR SAY in the United States, its territories and possessions, and Canada, contact:
DRAMATISTS PLAY SERVICE, INC.
440 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016
Have you been in a production of Having Our Say? If so, please e-mail us your head shot with your name and the roll you played. We'll add you to the gallery below.