Orlando Rep, UCF join in national commemoration of Birmingham bombing

The Orlando Repertory Theatre is partnering with Theatre UCF to co-present "Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963" by Christina Ham, as part of a national staged reading commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Birmingham bombing.

This free reading will be at 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15, in Studio 1 of the UCF Performing Arts Center on the campus in east Orange County off University Boulevard and Alafaya Trail.

Students from the University of Central Florida's School of Performing Arts join participants from the Kennedy Center and other venues for the commemoration of the 1963 bombing that took the lives of four young girls at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., and galvanized the Civil Rights movement.

"Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963" centers on the bombing's real-life victims: Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Addie Mae Collins. While Denise dreams of becoming a doctor, Carole looks forward to the dress she will one day wear at the cotillion, Cynthia imagines her life as a mathematics professor at the local university, and Addie Mae envisions a life as a professional baseball player. The realities of the segregated political climate that will put a stop to these dreams swirl around them and eventually culminate in the fateful events of Sept. 15, 1963.

The play, commissioned and originally produced by SteppingStone Theatre in St. Paul, examines what it is like to be a child in the most extreme circumstances.

The reading is part of Project1Voice's nationwide, simultaneous event of staged readings commemorating this seminal event in American civil-rights history, which took place just weeks after the historic March on Washington where Martin Luther King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream Speech."

The readings will feature multigenerational casts of national and local theater, television and film actors. For a full list of participating groups across the country, go to http://www.project1voice.org

Sponsored by the Orlando Repertory Theatre and directed by UCF masters-degree students Tara Kromer and Sara Brunow, the local cast consists of students in the University of Central Florida's School of Performing Arts.

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