In Ashley Bryan’s beloved and award-winning storybook Beautiful Blackbird, the one black-feathered bird in the forest is the envy of all the other birds. They beg him for more black — and thus more beauty — on their own feathers, even as the blackbird tries to teach them that true beauty lies within. Beautiful Blackbird is renowned Maine artist and writer Bryan’s adaptation of a traditional Zambian fable, which he illustrated with vibrant cut-paper images. Now Beautiful Blackbird leaps to the stage, in a new performance by the Theater Ensemble of Color, under the direction of Artistic Director René Goddess Johnson, and in collaboration with the Portland Museum of Art and Portland Ovations Offstage.
Beautiful Blackbird runs at the PMA for one week only, in conjunction with and celebration of the PMA’s Bryan show, Painter and Poet: The Art of Ashley Bryan. Performed by a multigenerational cast of TEoC artists, including Veeva Banga, Evadne Bryan-Perkins, and 11-year-old Anna Clark, this adaptation of Bryan’s story of understanding, self-love, and the hazards of appropriation also features original art by Daniel Minter and an original score by Eugene H. Russell IV, which will be performed live by a band comprised of musicians Rodney Mashia on guitar, Aaron Seglin playing djembe, David McDonough on percussion, and Jimmy McGirr on bass. (Phoenix editor Nick Schroeder is a TEoC affiliate producer of the production).