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A timeless story of family

Alex Miller
Special to the Daily Color Me Dark details the life of a black family in the deep South of the 1920s. Performances are today at noon and 6:30 p.m. at the Vilar Center for the Arts.
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BEAVER CREEK – Sometimes, a look back in time can give kids a little perspective about their own lives.That’s the idea behind today’s performance of a Kennedy Center production of “Color Me Dark: A Story of the Great Migration North.” This touring production is part of a joint effort by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and the children’s book publisher Scholastic.

Originally a book by Patricia C. McKissack, “Color Me Dark” details the life of a black family in the Deep South of the 1920s. Focused on two sisters, Erma Jean and Nellie Lee Love, the theatrical adaptation shows a world not too long after the Civil War and the emancipation, where racism still runs deep and many blacks migrated north. The Love family makes its way to Chicago, looking to escape oppression and find a better life.Despite the seeming distance of Chicago and the South of the 1920s and, say, Vail in 2006, there’s plenty here for modern audiences to relate to says Kim Peter Kovac at the Kennedy Center.”What’s interesting about this story is that it’s more about survival, a family that goes through some tough times and at the end of it they’re still together,” said Kovac, who directs the Kennedy Center’s youth and family programs. “For me that’s a very powerful message for children.”

For a good, present-day example of how important family sticking together is, Kovac said, one only need look as far as New Orleans.”These things happen right now,” he said. “The character Nell is the glue that holds her family together in that magical way that children can do.”Kovac said this is the third of four books commissioned by the Kennedy Center from Scholastic. The project, called “Dear America,” is aimed at portraying children during historical periods. The goal of adapting the stories for the stage was simply a way to broaden the message, he said.



“The response has been very positive,” he said. “And kids in the audience really identify with a protagonist when it’s a young person like Nellie.”Like kids today, he said, Nellie struggles with fitting in once the family moves to Chicago.The show will feature educational aspects like a performance guide, teachers’ workshop, and post-performance questions-and-answer sessions with the company.

The daytime performance is part of the STARS (Support The Arts Reaching Students) school program. The evening performance is sponsored by the Vail Daily.Vail, Colorado


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