Atlanta Fringe Festival
The Atlanta Fringe Festival’s objective is to provide opportunities to many deserving arts creators who might not otherwise find a great number of venues in which to display their talents and abilities.
And this pas week they brought to town the one-woman show, Josephine, which has been touring for three years and even played overseas. Tymisha Harris works the house as Josephine Baker, in this deeply moving biography which was created by her in association with Michael Marinaccio and Tod Kimbro, working together down in Orlando area.
If you have some concept of what this nation was like in the early days of the twentieth century you may recall that many black artists and performers, including jazz musicians left these shores to live and work in Paris, which in those days was the cultural center of the universe.
Josephine Baker was born in St. Louis, and had a very tumultuous life. She started her career in the USA but in the 1920’s segregation was still the normal situation be it at restaurants, hotels or more. And she stood up for herself and for women of color and women in general. She hadn’t risen to the heights in America, but when she went to Paris she was an instant hit, even playing at Folies Bergère and even in north Africa.
She adopted quite a few children, of diverse origins which often she referred to as her Rainbow Tribe, and she was very active with the NAACP and other groups fighting for equal rights.
She became known as the Black Pearl, and other nicknames as she became a world attraction. When World War II broke out she was in her 30’s and actually became a spy for the Allies, carrying intel messages across border in her undies. She was deeply involved with Grace Kelly who helped her through some difficult times, and when her days were over in 1975 at age 68, she was buried in Monaco.
After the war French President Charles de Gaulle bestowed membership to her in the French Legion of Honor for all of the great help she had been to so many. But, life wasn’t always a bed of roses. When she had come back to the USA she’d received lousy reviews, had been accused of being a communist, denied service in some restaurants, and since she had renounced her American citizenship and was then a French National, she even had her visa revoked.
She is a idol of so many. And if you think those problems are gone forever, don’t read the news or watch it on TV. For as the French would say, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” For info on upcoming events in the Atlanta Fringe Festival just visit them at AtlantaFringe.org