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Mar. 08 2023

Unearthing Baltimore history with playwrights Chloe and Kaylah Harvey

By Gavin Witt | Posted in Interviews, Staff Blogs, WBJC Programs | Comments Off on Unearthing Baltimore history with playwrights Chloe and Kaylah Harvey

Playwrights (and sisters) Chloe and Kaylah Harvey spoke with me about their world-premiere play finishing its run at 7.30 PM on March 9th and 10th at the Turpin-Lamb Theater in Murphy Fine Arts Center of Morgan State University.

What began as a one-semester credit has evolved over the years into a two-act epic family drama that uses a cast of nearly 20 actors to unearth a lost history–one with deep ties to Baltimore, to Morgan State, and to African American history, as well as deep personal connections to the Harvey sisters and their family.

Beginning in 2020, working on this piece, the dramaturgical duo discovered dusty, discarded elements of their family history tucked away in attics or buried deep in forgotten memories. What they found and put on stage recovers the amazing, stirring saga of their father, David, and mother, Tonya, who as newlyweds set out to conceive, design, and create a national flag for America’s Black citizenry. A flag filled with symbolism, pride, unity, celebration, and emotional weight.

The Harvey’s project caught on and became their fulltime job, also entangling with members of the extended Harvey clan. At the moment of greatest promise, in 2002, an unexpected tragedy brought it all crashing down overnight, and the project and its legacy faded, unmentioned.

With only some family albums, some boxes of memorabilia, their relatives recollections, and a few hours of grainy VHS home movies to go on, the sisters set out to reconstruct both the promise and potential of the flag project and the life of their father–the powerful glue that in many ways held so much of the family together, but whom they never got to know.

All this plays out on stage in alternating scenes of past and  present as the audience watches the pieces gradually come together.

Tickets, and more information, available at https://events.morgan.edu/event/20-02-Towson-MSU-Production, or by calling the Murphy Fine Arts Center Box Office (443) 885-4440 or Morgan State Student Center Box Office (443) 885-1522.


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WBJC listeners and Baltimore audiences may know Gavin from his nearly 20 years as dramaturg and associate artistic director at Baltimore Center Stage (in which capacity he was a frequent guest on WBJC to talk about programs and events), or from regular appearances alongside Jonathan Palevsky at the Charles Theater for Cinema Sundays discussions. A director, dramaturg, producer, translator, and adaptor who also teaches on the theater faculty at Towson University, Gavin is a recent addition to the WBJC team and delighted to play this new role.

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