U.S. Mission and Market Theatre Commemorate Black History Month

“Nina Simone: Four Women,” written by American author Christina Ham, is set in the immediate aftermath of the horrific September 16, 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

Month-long Run of “Nina Simone: Four Women”

Media Release | January 29, 2019

The U.S. Mission to South Africa is pleased to announce its support, through a grant of $75,000 (R1 023 534), for the production of “Nina Simone: Four Women” at the Market Theatre, February 1-24, 2019.  To commemorate Black History Month, recognized in the United States each year in February, the U.S. Mission has partnered with the Market Theatre in Johannesburg to deliver high impact and thought-provoking theater to South African audiences.  Over the past seven years, through a series of grants totaling more than R4 million, the U.S. Mission to South Africa has helped fund Market Theatre productions.

“Nina Simone: Four Women,” written by American author Christina Ham, is set in the immediate aftermath of the horrific September 16, 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.  The play uses the framework of Nina Simone’s song, “Four Women,” as it brings together four female characters who, in the course of the play, confront and give voice to their personal suffering and the devastating effects of racism and discrimination.  The 1963 bombing proved a pivotal moment in Nina Simone’s career as a songwriter, marking her shift to an artist-activist.  The performances will include some of Nina Simone’s most famous Civil Rights activist songs.

U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Jessica Lapenn said, “We are tremendously excited to support the production of ‘Nina Simone: Four Women’ at the Market Theatre to honor Black History Month and, in particular, the voices of black women.  I am confident that the themes brought to life through the actors, music, and the inspiring direction of James Ngcobo, will resonate powerfully with South Africans.  I also hope the play will spark important dialogue about the challenges our two countries have faced – and continue to face – in striving to build a society based on equality and justice, in which people, to quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.’ We congratulate the Market Theatre for putting on another stellar performance to commemorate Black History Month 2019.”

Performances will take place through February 24 in the John Kani Theatre at the Market Theatre, Tuesdays to Saturdays at 20:00 and Sundays at 15:00.  Tickets may be purchased at www.markettheatre.co.za or via Anthony Eseoke – AnthonyE@markettheatre.co.za  / 011-832-1641 / 083-246-4950.

Funding for this project is a part of U.S. Mission’s ongoing support for educational and cultural exchange programs in South Africa.  These programs, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, promote dialogue and encourage mutual understanding between Americans and South Africans.  For more information about U.S. Embassy and Consulate educational exchange programs, please visit: