Tribute to Black ‘sheroes’ in Essential Theatre’s ‘From the Mississippi Delta’

The emotional play by Endesha Ida Mae Holland, Ph.D., follows her journey from poverty to academia.

The Essential Theatre kicks off the summer with its Women’s Works Program
production of From the Mississippi Delta by Endesha Ida Mae Holland, Ph.D. Inspired by Alice Walker’s poem “Revolutionary Petunias,” the emotional play details Holland’s blossoming journey from poverty in Greenwood, Mississippi, to the hallowed halls of academia.

A tribute to unsung Black “sheroes” — extraordinary, ordinary women
who are the backbone of the African American community — From the Mississippi Delta features Crystal Henry Arful-Addah, Cynthia Davis, and Pauline Lamb and is directed by Luther D. Wells.

About the play: After being raped by her employer’s husband at the age of eleven, Ida Mae Holland (also known as “Cat”) became a rebel, getting expelled from high school, turning to prostitution, serving jail time for shoplifting and assault. But when she stumbled across the Civil Rights Movement, the troublemaker found herself developing into a leader — on the front lines of marches and protests, facing police dogs and water hoses, being beaten and jailed again and again, all in a struggle for freedom. The dream soon turned into a nightmare, however, as Cat’s family suffered the cruelest retribution at the hands of white bigots that she could ever have imagined.

From the Mississippi Delta plays June 19 to July 10, 2022, presented by The Essential Theatre performing at Anacostia Playhouse, 2020 Shannon Place SE, Washington, DC. For preview performances (June 19 at 3 pm and June 20 to 23 at 7 pm) pay-what-you-can tickets are available cash only at the door and a limited number of $15 advance tickets are available online. Tickets for regular performances (from opening night June 24 through July 10, on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm and on Saturdays and Sundays at 3 pm) are $39 and can be purchased online.

Recommended for ages 16 and up.

COVID Safety: Masks are required.

Major support is provided by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

About the Women’s Works Program

The Women’s Works Program is created to celebrate, investigate, and cultivate work for, by, and about women. As a means of reaching its target demographic, women aged 25 thru 64, the Essential Theatre endeavors to present one of its productions each year that is solely dedicated to women’s issues. It is a priority for the company to reach out to women of all socioeconomic backgrounds through this program as it celebrates the
triumphs and travails of women around the world.

The Essential Theatre Mission and Vision

The Essential Theatre is a nonprofit, professional theater dedicated but not limited to producing theater reflecting the African American experience that explores and celebrates America’s rich, diverse cultural landscape. Paramount to the theater’s mission is the implementation of programs for youth in Washington, DC’s metropolitan area to promote interdisciplinary education. Founded in 1989, the company hosts a Children’s Program in Public Schools–Young Audience Program, a New Play Reading Series, and the Women’s Works Program. The company also maintains a relationship with community-based organizations to better align programs for community resonance.

The Essential Theatre’s vision is to enhance the quality of life in the Washington, DC, metropolitan region through targeted outreach strategies that are inclusive utilizing institutional comprehensive programming. We believe that live theater performances should be a regular experience for residents regardless of socioeconomic status. Therefore, addressing economic barriers preventing access to quality professional theater is partial to our mission-critical work. Providing free and pay-what-you-can tickets as well as offering humanities programming to stimulate transitional thinking and building long-term patron support is chief among our vision strategies. For more info visit or contact (202) 328-0569.


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