The focus of Constant Star, Post-Reconstruction pioneer Ida B. Wells took on the United States railroad system, President McKinley and W.E.B. Du Bois. At the turn of the last century Ms. Wells, the daughter of freed slaves, changed history when she sued the Chesapeake Ohio and Southwestern Railroad for violating her civil rights after being forcibly ejected from a whites only car. (This was more than 70 years before Rosa Parks came along.) She won the case and $500 in damages. She later lost on appeal, but she continued to fight fearlessly her whole life for racial equality and justice. Her anti-lynching campaign confronted President McKinley with Americas ugly secret, and, as one of the formative founders of the NAACP, her incendiary, more radical views on race disparity collided with stalwarts W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington.
Playwright Tazewell Thompson calls Constant Star, his tribute to Wells opening today at the Ensemble Theatre, a play with songs. The five actresses who portray Wells use spirituals, along with monologues and group scenes, to convey her complex personality. The action includes the famous railroad incident and a graphic discussion of lynching. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays. Through April 12. 3535 Main. For information, call 713-520-0055 or visit www.ensemblehouston.com. $18 to $35.
Thursdays, 7:30 p.m.; Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: March 19. Continues through April 12, 2009