Saturday, July 18, 2009

Truth or Consequences: 3 Questions with Sojourner Truth playwright/performer Jazmin Miller

Posted By on Sat, Jul 18, 2009 at 2:08 PM

de70/1247945532-truth_pic.gifMemphis writer and actor Jazmin "Jazzy" Miller has developed a new script based on the life of Sojourner Truth a slave who renounced her bondage claiming God and spoken to her. Miller, a towering presence in her own right says she was intrigued by Truth's faith and sold on the idea of developing a script after discovering she was also "six feet of woman." Here's what else she had to say about her play The Journey of Truth.

Intermission Impossible: What about the Sojourner Truth story first captured your attention?

Jazmin Miller: Not to be cliché, but her faith… I wondered- how does a woman abused by slavery, people and false religion (yes, she was in a cult for two years) become the legacy? She literally drops everything from her possessions to her name (formerly known as “Isabella van Wagener”) and walks in blind faith from New York City as “Sojourner Truth”, holding high the banner of God… The story was tempting and compelling, but when I found out she was six feet of woman, I was sold on writing about and portraying her.

You've said you wanted to present her differently that she's previously been presented. What's different?

Unfortunately, she has not been represented much. Most people don’t even know who she is. But I have found that when she was/is represented, she is the whole, strong, self-made, powerful woman that everyone knows as “Sojourner Truth”, and it is likely, her “Ain’t I a Woman” speech is the performance or, at least, a part of it. “The Journey of Truth” does not touch on this part of her life. I am drawn in by “Isabella” (a slave to America and to one man’s religion) and the moment she rejects all bondage, undergoing the transformation to “Sojourner Truth.” I don’t want to present a woman who has all of the answers when the lights come up. The story of her life in pieces must be told…as well as finding how these parts fit together. Truth is- most of us are in pieces, scraping for answers, confused by the situations we are in (emotionally, financially, etc). This particular story, I believe, is more relevant now than an older, matured, idolized Sojourner…

What do you do with your original show when it closes?

When it closes, it opens again. And again. And again and again. As long as this sucker keeps booking, it’s open. After Southwest, there will be a performance for MIFA, then Carita’s Village on August 21 (“pay what you can”, money goes to the Village). Currently talking to Kevin [Collier] about booking at Rhodes this fall too!

The Journey of Truth: A one woman show based on the life and faith of Sojourner Truth
Friday, July 31 at 7:00pm; Saturday, August 1 at 8:30pm
Southwest Community College Theatre

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