Gullah Christmas musical

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Broadway Back In Da’ Woods Productions presents the full-stage musical “Gullah Kinfolk Christmas Wish” on Friday, December 6 at 7 p.m. The annual event is scheduled for the University of South Carolina Beaufort Center For the Arts.

Aunt Pearlie Sue
Aunt Pearlie Sue

A mini-marketplace will be open on the campus lawn from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. with a Taste of Gullah including a grits and gravy booth, a cornbread shack and an art exhibit.

Aunt Pearlie Sue, nationally acclaimed storyteller, and her Gullah Kinfolk, a professional singing cast, bring history alive on stage. The performance depicts an historical account of December of 1860, the last Christmas before the Civil War. South Carolina had just seceded from the Union. Visit the quarters and the big house for the talk of war and freedom by servant and master. Soul-stirring, foot-stopping singing and dancing depict the excitement of the Yuletide season on a South Carolina Sea Island plantation.

Performers are from the heart of the South Carolina Sea Islands and descend from the original Gullah people who were brought to America from West Africa by slave traders. Their skills in cultivating rice, indigo and cotton brought wealth to the masters of big Southern plantations. Aunt Pearlie Sue, whose real name is Anita Singleton Prather, wrote the original script for the production. She prefers to emphasize the hope and spirituality of a dynamic people rather than the suffering associated with a regrettable time in history.

“We celebrate those who survived the horrors of this cruel institution called the trans-Atlantic slave trade. They chained our flesh but could not our spirit.”

Prather is an ordained minister, historian, teacher, musician, writer and storyteller. She is known for her work preserving the Gullah culture through songs and stories and has toured the United States and Canada with her group of professional singers and musicians. Her performances employ an interactive technique that she believes offers audience members a deeper experience. Children and adults are delighted when invited onstage to become part of the Gullah story.

“We want our audience to interact with us and experience the excitement of Gullah,” she said.

Prather loves to feed people as much as she loves to perform. A Gullah feast will be served before the 7 p.m. show and is included in the advance ticket price of $30 (or door $35) for adults and $15 for children ages 7 to 17. Gullah art will be exhibited and available for sale. Tickets and information on weekend package specials are available at the Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce, 801 Bladen Street, Beaufort. Call 843-986-1102.