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June 5, 2017 @ 12:00 am - June 24, 2017 @ 12:00 am
An opera devised with children in Lambeth, about the first African American female pilot. Bessie’s Wings is a new opera devised with nearly 100 children from primary schools in Lambeth, including Vauxhall, Ashmole and St Mark’s schools.
Bessie Coleman is a figure of huge significance in African American history. Born into poverty in Texas at the end of the 19th century she became the first black woman to gain a pilot’s license, having travelled to France for flying lessons when she was denied opportunities in the US because of her gender and colour. She went on to become a celebrity, thrilling crowds with her aerobatic displays. These stunts eventually led to her untimely death.
Our opera, devised over a series of workshops from March to June, looks not just at the circumstances of her life, but also at the segregated conditions African Americans endured in the American South at the beginning of the last century.
Accompanying the opera is a hugely ambitious art project, involving a large number of Lambeth schools, and leading to a travelling exhibition. The project is also a collaboration with the Norwich and Norfolk Festival Bridge, involving selected schools in the area.