Brown Arts

The Providence Garden Blues

May 23 & 25, 2024
A celebration and staged reading of the 1970s play written by George Houston Bass.

An IGNITE Series Campus Project

The Department of Africana Studies/Rites and Reason Theatre presents

The Providence Garden Blues on a background of upside down houses in a gradient of purple to pink

Written by George Houston Bass
Reimagined by Lisa Biggs, Assistant Professor | Africana Studies/Rites and Reason Theatre
Directed by Eunice Ferreira
Featuring original music by Akua Naru and Becky Bass '13

George Houston Bass Performing Arts Space (BassPAS), Churchill House
155 Angell Street, Providence, RI, 02906

Thursday, May 23, 2024 | 7 PM
Staged Reading

Saturday, May 25, 2024 | 11 AM
Showcasing Selected Scenes and Music Followed by a Conversation with the Creative Team

About the Play

A celebration and staged reading of The Providence Garden Blues, a 1970s play written by George Houston Bass. Based on true events drawn from oral histories with local seniors, The Providence Garden Blues recounts one African American family's fight to stop the destruction of their home on the city's historic Eastside.

The Creative Team

Becky Bass‘13 (Choral & Music Director / Chorus) hails from St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, and is delighted to be working with Rites & Reason again! Off-Broadway: Yermedea at LaMaMa Theatre. Favorite Regional Credits: Ain’t Misbehavin (Armelia McQueen); A Night with Lady Day (Billie Holiday); Hairspray (Motormouth Maybelle); The Sun is Shining: Sissieretta Jones (Sissieretta Jones); Aida (Nehebka); Ophelia’s Cotillion at Rites & Reason Theatre. Becky is an award-winning vocalist/steel pannist that has performed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. as well as New York City’s Lincoln Center. She has also had the opportunity to open for and perform with many Grammy & Emmy Award-winning international artists, including Joshua Bell, Oumou Sangare, Damien Escobar, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Yellowman, and Wyclef Jean. Recently, Becky was invited to be the featured vocalist for a world premiere piece written for her voice with the New Jersey Symphony led by maestro Xian Zhang, which has been one of the highlights of her career. TV/Film Credits: Julia (HBOMax), Kevin Can F**k Himself (AMC), Love, Weddings & Other Disasters (Amazon), Space Oddity (HULU) dir. by Kyra Sedgwick. IG: @beckybassmusic

Lisa Biggs. Ph.D (Dramaturg / Writer), is a Black theatre and performance studies scholar, actor, and playwright. She is the author of the award-winning book, The Healing Stage: Black Women, Incarceration, and the Art of Transformation (Ohio State University Press, 2022).  Her stage credits include productions at the Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, Living Stage Theatre Company, ETA Creative Arts Foundation, Woolly Mammoth, and Lookingglass Theatre. Her original stage plays have been produced at the National Black Theatre Festival, Links Hall, Shadowbox Theatre, Cultural Odyssey, the NY Hip Hop Theatre Fest, DC Arts Center, and the Baltimore Theatre Project. Her creative work and scholarship have been supported by grants and fellowships, including from the Brown Arts Institute and the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Knight Foundation, DC Arts Council/National Endowment for the Arts, and the Ellen Stone Belic Foundation.

Eunice S. Ferreira (Director) is a scholar artist who amplifies artists of the global majority in her research, teaching, and directing She has produced, directed, and choreographed plays and musicals, including the multilingual premiere of The Orphan Sea by Caridad Svich. Her recent dramaturgical projects center around folx of the African diaspora. She has published in U.S. and international journals, including the first English translation (with Christina S. McMahon) of a play from Cabo Verde. Book projects include Crioulo Performance: Remapping Creole and Mixed Race Theatre and Applied Theatre and Racial Justice: Radical Imaginings for Just Communities, co-edited with Lisa L. Biggs. She is President of the Black Theatre Association and brings DEIJ experience to her work in and out of the classroom. She is Associate Professor of Theater at Skidmore College and spent last year as a MLK Visiting Professor at MIT. As a first-generation Cape Verdean American from Pawtucket, she is honored to pay homage to the legacy of Rites and Reason. She invites you to follow her Instagram teaching account @BIPOCTheatre.

akua naru (Music Director / Composer) is a composer, producer, lyricist, lecturer, and performer within the Hip Hop tradition. She has been called the “Toni Morrison of hip-hop” by renowned scholar and public intellectual Dr. Cornel West.  She has released five albums: “...the journey aflame (2011)”, “Live & Aflame Sessions (2012)”, “The Miner’s Canary (2015)”, “The Blackest Joy (2018)”, and “All About Love: New Visions (2024)”– all through the label she co-founded, The Urban Era. naru leads an extensive global touring schedule rocking with her band, her Royal Company. She has been a fellow at Fordham, Harvard, Brown, Yale, and Georgia State Universities. In addition, naru is the Founder & Artistic Director of The Keeper, the first archive to focus on women's work throughout 5 decades of Hip Hop history, permanently housed at Brown University.

Gia Yarn (Assistant Director) is grateful for the opportunity to assist on this staged reading after directing two scenes from The Providence Garden Blues Salon this past fall – all thanks to Dr. Lisa Biggs!  She’s been making theater since a young age and is inspired to examine the beauties and complexities of American life. Gia is Trinity Rep’s Artistic Producer where she coordinates casting, workshops, manages the artistic budget and assists in season planning.  She assistant directed A Christmas Carol (dir. Stephen Thorne), Sweeney Todd (dir. Curt Columbus) and Sueño (dir. Tatyana-Marie Carlo) and directs annually for Write Here! Write Now!  This past fall, she directed a short scene for Trinity Rep's 60th Anniversary gala and a workshop scene with first year Brown/Trinity  MFA students. Gia graduated from Dean College with a BA in Art and Entertainment Management and completed internships at Imagination Stage, The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival and Ballet RI.  She sends love to mom, dad, family, friends, mentors and the cats.


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Brown Arts’ IGNITE Series uplifts the spirit of artistic collaboration across Brown, Providence, the Rhode Island region, and beyond. Ignite your creative curiosity through this multi-year series of programs, activations, interventions, and investigations.