A new production is headed to Malvern-based People’s Light, and this regional premiere comes from playwright Christina Anderson.
Anderson’s ‘the ripple, the wave that carried me home’ will run Feb. 21 to March 24, and this award-winning play follows one family’s fight to integrate public swimming pools in the 1960s and 70s.
Berkeley Rep commissioned the Tony Award-nominated Anderson to develop ‘the ripple, the wave that carried me home’ through the theater’s Ground Floor Summer Residency Lab in 2018. The play premiered at Berkeley Rep in 2022 and has since been presented at several theaters across the U.S., including the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, and Portland Center Stage in Oregon.
Taking place in Kansas, the show follows the Collens family and their fight to desegregate local swimming pools over 50 years ago. The daughter, Janice, starts to grow apart from her prominent activists parents, Helen and Edwin, and “an unspoken distance grows within the family.” Years later in 1992, Janice has started a new life far away, until she receives a phone call asking her to speak at a ceremony honoring her father. She then has to decide whether she’s ready to reckon with her family’s past and also, her political inheritance.
Directed by Donya K. Washington, ‘the ripple, the wave that carried me home’ stars local and regional actors Patrese D. McClain, Shauna Miles, Nathan M. Ramsey, and Eunice Woods. As the release notes, Washington has credits directing numerous productions such as ‘Shutter Sisters’ at The Old Globe in San Diego, California, and ‘Downstairs’ at Actor’s Express Theatre Company in Atlanta, Georgia. She is also the Festival Producer for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and a Board Member of Seven Devils New Play Foundry.
“One of the things I love about Christina Anderson’s plays is that Black people just are – they aren’t about us being Black,” said Washington in a statement. “It’s not something we talk about all day and all night. It just is. It’s something that does affect our lives, and yet, we love, we cry, we dance stories that aren’t directly about that.”
Washington continued: “I love that she wants to tell those stories, to illuminate the lives that are lived. The leaders of the marches, after the march is over, go home and fight with their kids, hug their husbands, mow the lawn, cook, all the things that make up a life. Everything is not the struggle — one must breathe and eat and sleep.”
“People’s Light has always been committed to producing plays that speak directly to the history, heritage, and current concerns of our neighbors,” added Zak Berkman, Producing Artistic Director at People’s Light in another statement. “’the ripple, the wave that carried me home’ is exactly that. A personal and political story, the play delves deeply into questions of loyalty and legacy. It’s about one family and our entire country all at the same time.”
Philadelphians can make a night of heading out to the Malvern-based venue by stopping by the campus’ restaurant as well, The Fern & Fable. The establishment is located just steps away from the stage, and it offers al fresco dining in the warmer months (and spring is right around the corner.) The menu changes seasonally, but some previous standouts have included salmon pasta, braised short ribs of beef, roasted root vegetables, lemon chicken, apple crisp and more.
Preview performances for ‘the ripple, the wave that carried me home’ are from Wednesday, Feb. 21, through Saturday, Feb. 24. The production opens with a performance on Sunday, Feb. 25, at 2 p.m. and runs through Sunday, March 24. Tickets start at $42. For more information on People’s Light (39 Conestoga Rd, Malvern) and to buy tickets, visit peopleslight.org