200 Has a Lot to Say at Pink Palace 

Bicentennial events are tricky. Everybody celebrating is inclined to touch on similar themes, or remember similar events, reducing complex histories to a series of greatest hits. "We wanted to make sure we weren't just focusing on the 19th century or on early Memphians, or on Dr. King or Elvis," Pink Palace curator Nur Abdalla says, describing the bicentennial storytelling event, 200 Has a Lot to Say. "These parts of history are important, of course, but there are so many other places that do a great job of telling those stories, and they may be having bicentennial events of their own. So we wanted to do something that was a little bit more diversified."

200 Has a Lot to Say brings together musicians, actors, dancers, and characters, all charged with creating unique snapshots of Memphis.

click to enlarge Nur Abdalla - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Nur Abdalla

"We decided on storytelling, but we're using that word in a non-traditional sense," Abdalla says. "So we're not just talking about someone standing around telling you a story orally or reading from a book. We have storytelling through dance, and interactive musicals. We have a re-enactor, a theatrical performance, and an open mic-type performance for present-tense stories that will hopefully be more relatable because they're told by everyday people, so to speak."

Storytelling mediums range from drumming to dance, and topics include Africa's influence on the Memphis sound, Memphis' Latino experience, and a ballet about Robert Church, the South's first African-American millionaire.

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