Nina Simone: Liberian Days to play at Chapel off Chapel
7 February – 18 February
The fabulous Ruth Rogers-Wright is back to once again dazzle as Nina Simone in playwright Neil Cole’s latest production Nina Simone: Liberian Days. The show will play at Prahran’s Chapel off Chapel from 7 February – 18 February 2018.
This is the second time Rogers-Wright and Cole have worked together, after the critically acclaimed Nina Simone: Black Diva Power, which was given two seasons in Melbourne and played to sold – out crowds at the Edinburgh Festival in 2016. Rogers-Wright is joined by renowned pianist Mark Fitzgibbon, who has played throughout Australia and internationally with many leading jazz artists.
Nina Simone was the priestess of soul, singing a mix of jazz, blues and folk music in America throughout the 1950s and 1960s. She was a strong advocator for civil rights and is known for songs such as ‘Mississippi Goddamn’ and ‘Four Women’.
Cole’s new musical follows Nina’s three years in the African state of Liberia. Having witnessed the dream of equal rights collapse for African Americans in the US, Nina headed to Liberia in 1974.
“Nina Simone: Liberian Days is a story of acceptance and freedom. Nina, for the first time in her life, was not a minority. She was free. I wanted to express the effects of freedom on a person and their music,” says playwright Neil Cole.
Nina embraced Liberia in every respect – the men, the music, the sunsets and the beaches. She sang in coffee shops and bars, loving every minute of it and relishing being part of a society where she was surrounded by people of her own race.
British-born Ruth Rogers-Wright first came to prominence in the mid ‘80s with the ‘new British jazz’ movement with her band Moontwist. In the years she has lived in Australia , she has performed her jazz originals at Bennett’s Lane, Dizzys, York Festival and numerous times in Sydney in all manner of clubs, pubs and venues in between.
Like Nina Simone herself, Rogers-Wright ‘s approach to music is not always easy to pin down as it is so varied. Her velvet blue-tone voice has been likened to Sara Vaughan, Nina Simone and Sade. But be it an emotional whisper or an industrial scream, Rogers-Wright always sings as herself.
Playwright Neil Cole is an Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne. He has written 27 plays which have been produced all over Australia and overseas. He won the Griffin Theatre Award for ‘Best New Writing for Theatre’ in 1999 and this year won the inaugural Supreme Court Award for Best Achievement in Writing.
Nina Simone: Liberian Days is the story of the great Nina Simone’s three years in the African State of Liberia, at a time when her music was never better. Ruth Rogers-Wright is sure to deliver – like the diva – a performance that is both mesmerising and ferocious.
Nina Simone: Liberian Days
7 February – 18 February
Chapel Off Chapel
8pm Tues – Sat, 6:30pm Sundays
$38 full / $35 concession / $20 groups 10+