Decades of Day Work

ST. PETERSBURG — Your Real Stories presents “Decades of Day Work V”  Fri., March 27 at freeFall Theatre, 6099 Central Ave., St Petersburg at 7 p.m.

 “Very special and enlightening.”  “Powerful…extremely well told… (an) important contribution to social healing.”  That’s what audiences have said about “Decades of Day Work,” a series that uses live theatrical presentations, music, spoken word and audience discussion to tell the stories of the real life “help”—domestic day workers—the people who hired them and the authentic relationships that survived sometimes in spite of segregation, discrimination and racism.

Decades of Day Work, ae, artSeventy-eight-year-old storyteller, Alonza Wade, grew up in Miami. His mother was a domestic day worker who worked for a white family on Miami Beach, but because of segregation and Jim Crow laws, she could not be on the beach unescorted.

“She had to ride in the back of the bus to the beach,” Wade said, “give the attendant her ID card, go to the next station and pick up her pass, and then get back on the bus.  At the next bus stop, the owner [of the house] had to be there to take her to work.”

Elaine Woodward shared the story of her “46 year sisterhood” with her maid, Celia Gee, who was black. Woodward, who is white, told the people assembled for Gee’s funeral: “ I had always hoped she would outlive me because she was so much a part of my daily existence.  I miss her now and I will think of her every day for the rest of my life.”

Your Real Stories is a non-profit organization that uses storytelling and the magic of theatre and other media to challenge people to talk and listen to each other across perceived differences of identity, experience and opinions. When the movie version of the book “The Help” was released, Your Real Stories directors decided to invite people to share their own real life stories about domestic day work.

In 2014, “Decades of Day Work IV” at freeFall Theatre featured guest storyteller Dr. My Haley, widow of author Alex Haley and collaborator with him on the iconic book and television mini-series “Roots.” Each “Decades of Day Work” is presented in two parts: a dramatic reading of the stories by professional actors and a moderated panel discussion that includes the original storytellers and reaches out to the audience.

“Decades of Day Work V” brings us the stories of a maid who taught her daughter the value of work along with the necessity of protest; one man’s memory of his mother and the family she worked for, whom he came to consider as his own; and three sisters, who tell the story of a mother who regularly proved she was much smarter than the people who hired her.

Join us for “Decades of Day Work V” Fri., March 27 at 7 p.m. at freeFall Theatre, 6099 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.

General admission tickets are $15 and available at the freeFall Theatre box office, by phone at (727) 498-5205 and online at freefalltheatre.com. Student tickets are $12 with valid student ID and must be purchased at the box office.

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