copious love suggests

Copious Love Suggests: “Harriet’s Return” and the Langston Hughes Performance Arts Institute

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Karen Jones
Karen Jones Meadows as Harriet Tubman in “Harriet’s Return”

Harriet’s Return
by Karen Jones Meadows
at Langston Hughes Performance Art Institute
March 1, 2, & 3.

by John Paul Sharp

Earlier this week, Tony, Lacy, and I had the opportunity to speak with the Executive Director and the Artistic Director of the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in the Central District of Seattle. From the very beginning, everyone at their organization has been so warm and open to us. They gave us tickets to see their current show happening just this weekend! It’s a one-woman-show written and performed by Karen Jones Meadows, called Harriet’s Return, based upon the legendary life of Harriet Tubman. It runs tonight at 7:30 p.m. and tomorrow afternoon.  Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

The price is well worth the admission!  Jones Meadows is a phenomenal actress and I was particularly impressed with her ability to deliver nearly two hours worth of lines completely flawlessly. I believe because she researched and wrote this play, it is so deeply ingrained within her. The story is a little tricky to follow in the beginning as I had to adjust and adapt to her dialect, but after awhile, the flow of her delivery is captivating and you hardly realize how much time has passed.

The set was beautiful and Jones Meadows makes intelligent decisions about costume changes and movements between different set pieces. At times, the audio (mostly sounds of drums and water) became slightly distracting, but overall, it added to the mood and feeling of the times being presented throughout the course of the show.

Harriet’s Return does not simply recount Tubman’s achievements; it chronicles the important facets of her life as a black woman coming not just out of slavery but into herself at various ages. This play is not just a story about the black experience of slavery, it’s also the story of a woman’s experience of becoming a leader, a lover, and a mother. There are many scenes which are universally relatable to all people today. Particularly, the ending scenes of both acts gave us chills and even tears – but not tears of sadness or shame – Jones Meadows gave us tears of unity and hope. We all left the show feeling invigorated and touched. And that is how all shows should be.

We just want to thank Royal Alley-Barnes and Jacqueline Moscou for inviting us not just to see this show, but to be a active, immersed participants in their arts vision. We highly recommend anyone to come see a show or join an event at the Langston Hughes Performance Art Institute. You will feel more connected than ever before.

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