“A JOURNEY” brings to life multiple historical Black women, each portrayed by Wilson.
When asked about the characters she’ll play, Wilson said, “One is an African queen, a slave child, Harriett Tubman and more.” The other identities will be revealed in the musical, an interactive experience for audience members who will be invited to sing along with each character’s song if they know it, and share their own stories and thoughts in an audience-talk after the show. The experience is suitable for fifth graders and up.
Wilson’s characters, with emotional input from her audiences, tend to evolve as she portrays them, she said.
Her storytelling as an actress, even when scripted, builds on inspiration from audience feedback and changes with each performance.
“The messages may be uniquely different for each audience member. I would never want to tell someone how to receive my performance.”
“Sharing the stories of Black women in history, as well as a piece of my own story, is worth celebrating any day, in addition to February's Black History Month. Our stories should be shared 365 days a year,” Wilson said in a follow-up email.
Wilson has brought her shows to libraries, churches, community centers, large houses, universities, and performance spaces in Connecticut, Georgia, Florida, and Minnesota her home state, among other places. The present iteration to be performed here is a script that was three years in the making.
With each performance she books, Wilson insists on there being a talkback with her audience at the end.
“I will not try to change people’s perspectives, rather am hopeful they will sit and listen to my stories and I will sit and listen to their stories. We should tell stories. They [audiences] want to share their own life and they do. That’s the experience I long for. The segue is they tell their stories,” she said.
Wilson won Best Playwright in 2016 at the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival for “A JOURNEY.”
A Connecticut resident (who lived in Bethel at one point), Wilson grew up in the theater, having joined the Children’s Theatre Company when she was in ninth grade. “I love to perform. I believe performing is part of my ministry. Whenever you are in the theater you are receiving people's stories.”
Bethel Artist Diana Gubbay who serves on the board of Bethel Arts saw Wilson’s “A JOURNEY” at the Ridgefield Library last year.
“I was really, really taken with it. I was electrified I would say, and my first thought was, how can we bring this to Bethel? She’s a very charismatic performer.”
While we won’t spoil which characters Wilson will present at the musical, Gubbay said they will be people you recognize from history. “You’ve heard their names but she brings them to life and creates an emotional experience. I felt very connected from the performance and connected to these women in history.”
Bethel Arts Chair and Director of Economic Development for the Town of Bethel, Janice Chrzescijanek saw the performance and also wanted to bring it here.
“I was completely moved by Kimberly’s performance. I knew right away that we had to bring this performance to the Bethel community. It’s a must-see for any age. It is incredibly moving and Kimberly is as engaging off stage as she is on. After the show she stays and talks with the audience one-on-one. Her gentle nature and pure interest in people brought me to tears.”
Gubbay said the Bethel Arts board supported the idea of bringing the show here for Black History Month.
“I was on board to help produce the show. The first thing was to find a venue because we don't have a performing arts place in Bethel. And my dream is to work towards Bethel becoming a hub of cultural activity in Fairfield County and beyond.”
The owners of Greenwood Features, Frank and Jaimie Lockwood, welcomed the event.
“A JOURNEY” Musical One-Woman Show will be Sunday, Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. at Greenwood Features, 269 Greenwood, Ave., Bethel
Tickets ($25) are available on line here.