The Clothesline Muse is a devised theatrical production originally conceived as dance by Dr. Kariamu Welsh and developed into an evening length multi discipline theatrical piece with collaborators Nnenna Freelon and Maya Freelon Asante. The intergenerational story is centered around Grandma Blu, an elderly washerwoman and storyteller, and her 26 year old granddaughter Mary Mack. Mary is an emerging screenwriter, feminist and afro-futurist, who sees little value in washerwoman culture and Grandma’s old fashioned stories. As Grandma Blu passes on, Mary must fulfill her promise to take care of her house filled to the brim with a lifetime of memories and laundry artifacts.
Kariamu Welsh’s choreography transforms vernacular wash movements into poetic dance, celebrating the passion and beauty of women’s work. Jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon composed the original music influenced by gospel, folk and blues traditions. Maya Freelon Asante’s vibrant tissue paper art acts as a kinetic sculpture representing strength, fragility and the stories that connect us to each other and the clothesline.
The Clothesline Muse is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by Painted Bride Art Center in partnership with St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation, Inc./Hayti Heritage Center and NPN. The Creation Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). For more information: npnweb.org.