The Look of Feeling, a theatrical production of a one-woman show starring acclaimed artist Francesca Harper, premieres in a very special intimate limited engagement during May 2014 in New York City’s theatre district. Conceived and written by Francesca and helmed by Directorial Consultant Susan Batson, The Look of Feeling is an epic saga of true stories told through dance and song about a woman, Denise Jefferson (1944–2010) – an American dance pioneer and the star’s mother.
In her first solo theatrical production, Francesca reveals the woman behind her mother, and her struggle with independence, feminism, single motherhood, civil rights, men, and ultimately, cancer. Francesca takes us on her mother’s courageous journey starting with her family’s flight from slavery in Coffeeville, Mississippi, in the 1800s, then onto her husband’s role as a prominent attorney during the civil rights movement in the 1960s, to becoming an internationally acclaimed dance educator as the founding Director of the Ailey School.
“She had this sense of fearlessness, which I loved,” says Francesca. Channeling her mother’s intrepidness, Francesca turns grief into an opportunity to recount her mother’s life. “Sharing my mother’s story on stage is a way for her life to teach us all something,” explains Francesca. “Her inner complexities, her trials and tribulations and her authenticity are all universal life lessons that everyone can relate to.”
In turns gut-wrenching and emotionally affective, surprisingly funny and totally relatable, The Look of Feeling provides a platform for Francesca to give a reflective, powerful performance – the performance of her career. By throwing in a few bright splashes of theatricality, in the form of glamorous costumes, startling introspective silences, as well as dabs of comedy, Francesca creates a colorful theatrical portrait that touches upon notable events and experiences of black Americans of the 20th century.
A bold and accomplished artist in her own right, Francesca has received rave reviews as a performer in Sweet Charity, The Producers, Fosse, and The Color Purple; as a singer and lyricist; and as a dancer/choreographer and director of her own modern dance company, The Francesca Harper Project. “The statuesque cleared eyed dancer sings the body electric…moves from innocence to experience with such grace.” (New Yorker)
When: 5/2 + 5/3 at 8pm; 5/9, 5/10, 5/16 + 5/17 at 7pm; 5/12 + 5/19 at 3pm; and 5/11 + 5/18 at 6pm
Susan Batson Studio Theater, 300 W 43rd St (near 8th Ave), #300, NYC, Train: A/C/E Port Authority
Tickets: $20. To purchase, contact the Studio at 212.226.4630 or visit slices-of-lives-productions.ticketleap.com.
Conceived/Written/Performed by Francesca Harper
Directorial Consultant: Susan Batson
Producers: Fiona Graham and Ignacio Garcia-Bustelo
Creative Consultant: Katherine Baldwin-Eng
Choreographed by Francesca Harper and Shayla Vie Jenkins
Composition & Arrangements by Earl Maneein
Music by The Birds of Paradise, Madeline Peyroux, Three 6 Mafia
Original Songs by Francesca Harper
Video Projections by Francesca Harper
Costumes by Elias Gurrola and Francesca Harper