I was not very aware of Zora Neale Hurston when I went to Black History Comes Alive’s one-man show on her life. I knew of her in the general high school kind of level. Knew that she was a part of the Harlem Renaissance, and a prominent female African-American writer. However, when Tiffany came on stage and uttered her first line as Hurston I was engrossed. The performance was part history, and part reading. Two short stories were preformed, The Gilded Six-Bits, and Sweat. The first was the story of a young couple in the troughs of marital bliss, when an incident occurs and alters their feelings for each other. The second Sweat is about a married couple. However, this one is less up beat than the former. The first story was there to make you realizes that even if there are trials in a relationship you have to persevere.
A common theme throughout Hurston’s works were married couples. However, I learned that Hurston herself was only married once. At the performance there was a brief mention to her time at Howard University, and that she studied Anthropology. She discussed a few of her various relationships, including one to a man twenty years her senior. She also talked about her parents. Her father was the inspiration for her novel “Jonah’s Gourd Vine.” She keyed us into the meaning behind the Gourd Vine metaphor. The Gourd Vine is a vine that holds a fruit on it, and in the novel the fruit progressively becomes rotten, and this is a metaphor for the husbands questionable life style.
The show itself was beautifully handled by the Black Student Union. The performer made good use of the few select props that appeared on stage. All of the stories were told in the style they were meant to be conveyed. The performer was a spoken word artist from Chicago; she understands that the delivery of a phrase, or even a single word, could make a world of difference on the meaning of the story.
Over all I found myself wholly engaged, and hanging on every word. The stories were preformed brilliantly and I learned so much within that hour that I am going to add Zora Neale Hurston to my reading list.