Soul Rep Theatre Company, in partnership with SMU’s Perkins School of Theology, will present the world premiere of DO NO HARM, a play by Soul Rep’s co-founder Anyika McMillan-Herod and commissioned by Perkins’s Evelyn L. Parker and the Association of Practical Theology (APT). The play runs January 11 – 31 via video on demand.
The play was to be performed in April 2020 at the APT’s international conference in Houston but was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
DO NO HARM, co-directed by Vickie Washington and McMillan-Herod, was filmed in November in a slave cabin at Dallas Heritage Village. The play explores the story of three enslaved women – Anarcha, Betsey, and Lucy – who were experimented on without anesthesia by Dr. J. Marion Sims, credited as “The Father of Modern Gynecology.”
“The story of Anarcha, Betsey, and Lucy is one that needs to be told,” said Parker, who is Susanna Wesley Centennial Professor of Practical Theology at Perkins. “Their story is an example of the suffering and struggle that enslaved persons in America endured and somehow survived.”
DO NO HARM has also inspired an entire lecture series on “ethics in medicine” for SMU and a special liturgical service to take place next spring.
“It has been a privilege to bring their story to light and life through this project,” said McMillan-Herod.
The powerful piece stars four local actors in the title roles – Brittney Bluitt as Anarcha, Whitney Coulter as Lucy, Jaquai Wade Pearson as Betsey and Brandy McClendon Kae as Tabitha. Soul Rep co-founder Tonya Holloway, and local producer Sonny Jefferson served as cinematographers. DO NO HARM is Soul Rep’s first venture into film.
“The pandemic has allowed our company to stretch and explore other areas of the craft and genres that we have been talking about for years,” says Holloway. “DO NO HARM is a game changer for us.”
The production is sponsored in part by the generous support of Common Ground Economic Development Corporation, Moody Fund for the Arts, SMU, and TACA. Additional support was provided by The Claudia and Taylor Robinson Lectureship Fund, devoted to surveying the arts as interpreters of religious beliefs and practices. Tickets to watch the filmed play are $14.00 and can be purchased at http://www.soulrep.org.
Soul Rep is the longest running Black theater company in Dallas’ history.