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The story of Mary told through the African American experience


J-P Mauro - published on 08/12/21

The relevant off-Broadway show 'Mary Speaks' has been recorded for a virtual tour in 2021.

The off-Broadway solo show Mary Speaks has been converted into a 52-minute virtual production. The play explores the parallels between the life of the Blessed Mother and “the history of black mothers and their sons from slavery to present day.” From August 9-15 it will be presented for streaming by Grits Entertainment and The Sheen Center for Thought and Culture.

Mary Speaks was in the midst of a successful off-Broadway run when the world pandemic began. As racial tensions rose during the summer of 2020, Angela Polite, the driving creative force of the show, responded by creating a filmed version. Now, Mary Speaks: The Virtual Experience is planned to go on “virtual tour” across North America for the remainder of 2021.

Angela Polite

Angela Polite, the star of Mary Speaks, spent nearly a decade writing, composing, and producing the show. The shortened virtual production comes in at just under an hour and includes two original musical numbers. Polite explained Mary Speaks in a press release: 

Mary Speaks takes the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and uses it to explore the history of black mothers and the loss of their sons,” Polite says. “Mother Mary becomes a prototype for the struggle of black mothers to raise and keep their sons alive in a society where their very existence is seen as a threat. Black mothers have experienced that ‘foot of the cross’ moment throughout history.” 

Polite places the character of Mary into various moments of history where mothers have faced loss. She added: 

“I play her as an African American woman,” Polite says. “This is the story of Mary told through the African American experience, coming out of slavery, into the lynching years, the fifties, the sixties, and into the present day. We see Mary as these different women throughout the timeline of the African American experience.”

According to the show’s webpage, Mary Speaks has become especially relevant since the killing of George Floyd in May 2020. Polite believes that Mary Speaks has a central place in the dialogue on the national protests and “racial reckoning” of the times. The goal of Mary Speaks is to “promote social discourse, connect the community, and hold space for conversation and healing.”

Mary Speaks, written and performed by Angela Polite, is available to stream until August 15. The stream can be viewed through the Eventive website, for for a nominal fee. Click here to learn more.

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