Kirsten Childs: The Skate

Written by Mary Birnbaum

Director

June 5, 2017

This super creative setting of a teenage girl’s extracurricular activities by the UBER talented Kirsten Childs has come to mind because her new musical, Bella: An American Tall Tale has just opened at Playwrights Horizons and I’m dying to see it. The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, which was a total delight in the early 2000’s, had several of my all time favorite performers in it— Adriane Lenox, Darius DeHaas, Jerry Dixon, LaChanze. There are a lot of selections that bear listening to, but “The Skate” is one of my favorites, tonally—the way Childs builds on the initial vocal line is so inventive, fun and original. It’s a nostalgic song—the lead character, Vivica, describes the way her friends got together every Thursday to do a dance called “The Skate”. I went to an all-girls high school in CT where (as I was Jewish and from out of town) I was considered diverse. I definitely had major envy for anyone who lived in the city and was exposed to all the different cultures that Childs folds into this piece musically. Even today, I think that art/music/dance/ritual is the quickest way to bridge cultural connections.

I felt like a deep cut of a cool musical (that has a tinge of intersectional feminism) was the right way to kick off this week. It also gets stuck in your head like nothing else. Cannot wait to dig up some other favorites for the next 4 days!

“The Skate” from Kirsten Childs’ The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin

Mary Birnbaum

Mary Birnbaum is an NYC-based opera director, working with companies throughout the US and internationally. Her recent production of The Rape of Lucretia at Juilliard garnered a rave from Anthony Tommasini at The New York Times who called it “viscerally overwhelming”. One of NYFOS’s favorite guest artists, she has directed several NYFOS@Juilliard programs, including Protest, which will appear on the Mainstage series in 2018. Upcoming projects include Halka at Bard Music Festival and La Finta Giardiniera at Juilliard.

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