SLEEP NO MORE, 1982 AND 1984
One of my favorite roles of all time was in SLEEP NO MORE, a madcap musical based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth but from the viewpoint of the servants. Book and lyrics were by Felton Perry, Music by Gary Brooks, and I played Lady Macbeth to Felton Perry’s Macbeth. It was originally an Inner City Cultural Center production, directed by Art Evans. It was then presented by Inner City and The Shakespeare Society of America and moved to the Globe Playhouse in Los Angeles, Thad Taylor, Artistic Director, and was directed by Tom Orth. Eugene Bolande and I, from the cast, were assigned co-producing credit for this production, along with Thad Taylor and Jay Ulney.
During the run of the show at the Globe, when one of the chamberlains, Fred Tucker, asked his mother what she thought of the show, she said, “Mmm, mmm, mmm, Black people come all kinda ways, that little girl Virginia, she looks Chinese!” And of course, much teasing went on backstage after that. Two weeks later my friend Sab Shimono called and told me to look on page 12 (Part VI, November 2, 1984) of The Los Angeles Times. To my great surprise, I had been nominated Best Actress for the Hollywood Chapter of the NAACP Image Awards!!! I have never been so honored in my life! And, of course, this was Inner City’s dream, to transcend ethnic and racial lines to achieve understanding through the arts. I rest my case!
I did go to the NAACP office to explain that I was totally honored but that I was Chinese. After much debate in another room that I was not privy to, I was told, “NAACP stands for National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. We have decided you are a ‘colored’ person and the nomination will stand.” This was a very generous decision on their part and I was, and am, delighted and honored.
*Quote by Ernest Dillihay, in OUT OF THE ASHES, by Dr. Sandi Sheffey and Ernest D. Dillihay, publishers, OUT OF THE ASHES
To read more about my years at Inner City Cultural Center, click here.