World Premiere Performances of Harlem Renaissance Novel by Philadelphia’s Jessie Redmon Fauset

-Courtesy of Perpetual Motion PR

EgoPo’s 2022-2023 Harlem Renaissance Season, co-presented with Theatre in the X, will close with the world premiere theatrical staging of Jessie Redmon Fauset’s Plum Bun in the month of her 141st birthday. Staged at the Christ Church Neighborhood House on 20 N American St, Philadelphia, PA 19106, Plum Bun tells the experience of a White-passing Black Philadelphian in the 1920s and is one of the only stage epics that features Philadelphia as its primary setting. Plum Bun previews begin Wednesday, April 19th and opens on Friday, April 21st. The show runs two weeks, closing on Sunday, April 29th. General admission tickets start at $32.

EgoPo’s Harlem Renaissance Season celebrates the legacy of Black culture, music, theater, art, literature, fashion, and scholarship in the United States. Philadelphians like Jessie Redmon Fauset and Alaine Locke were integral to the Harlem Renaissance and played a large part in the artistic and creative output of the period. 

“The blueprint for the Harlem Renaissance, in many ways, emerged from Philadelphia. Alaine Locke, grew up during a time in which a Black professional intelligentsia was beginning to flourish. At the turn of the century, he worshiped at Christ Church, the site of our Plum Bun performances, and believed that Black Philadelphians could dream any life they wished and might have an equal opportunity to accomplish that dream. He graduated 2nd in his class from Central High, then from Harvard, and became the first Black Rhodes Scholar. However, a strong backlash against Black upward mobility soon followed and Locke became a national voice for change. He believed that through the support and celebration of Black excellence in the arts and literature, we could unravel a system that objectified black citizenry and eventually achieve true equal access and opportunity for all in this country. His Philadelphia contemporary, Jessie Redmon Fauset, is a perfect example of what he hoped his vision would achieve ” says Artistic Director, Lane Savadove.

Jessie Redmon Fauset grew up in Camden County before moving to Philadelphia. She finished Valedictorian at Girls High the very year Bryn Mawr College decided to automatically accept the school’s top graduate each year. Unfortunately for Fauset, Black students were not allowed to attend Bryn Mawr at that time, so when she arrived President M. Carey Thomas abruptly “shipped her off to Cornell” (Bryn Mawr Alumni Bulletin, 2020). In spite of this, she would go on to succeed academically, graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Cornell and earning her Masters Degree from Univ. of Pennsylvania. While teaching French at an all-Black secondary school in Washington, D.C., she published articles in The Crisis magazine and the NAACP journal. She soon moved to NYC when the magazine’s editor, W.E.B. Du Bois, persuaded her to join as literary editor, where she published the works of Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Claude McKay, and Jean Toomer. She would go on to write about middle-class Black characters struggling with self-hate and racial prejudice through Comedy: American Style, There Is Confusion, The Chinaberry Tree, and Plum Bun.

Plum Bun is intentionally staged at the Christ Church Neighborhood House and pays homage to Black Americans that have historically lived in or passed through Old City. Before the Neighborhood House’s construction in 1915, the area was a neighborhood for middle-income Black Americans. In Plum Bun, Angela Murray, a young light-skinned Black woman, faces the headwinds of racism and sexism in 1920s Philadelphia. She leaves for New York, passing as White within Greenwich Village Bohemia before an unexpected journey leads her to a personal reckoning and a reclaiming of her Black identity. EgoPo presents this sprawling period-piece with  an 18-person cast with direction by Walter DeShields and Co-Adapted with Lane Savadove. 

“The Harlem renaissance was not limited to Harlem, in fact, it was known to have started in DC with Alaine Locke at Howard University and have roots in Philadelphia,” said Plum Bun Director Walter DeShields. “Certainly Jessie Redmond Fauset being a native of Philadelphia (along with Locke) is just the start of our contribution to the movement. Philadelphia should be proud of this history and our continued legacy in Black Artistic expression.”

Alexandria Orr makes her EgoPo/Theatre in the X debut as Angela Murray, along with James Kern, Evan Mayorga, Maggie Brennan, Grace McGory, Alec Lacher, Jeszenee Tayon Turner, and Paul Harrold. EgoPo and Theatre in the X welcome back Kyson Martin (EgoPo’s The Ways of White Folks), Danielle “Danni” Shaw (EgoPo’s The Ways of White Folks, Theatre in the X’s Dreamgirls), Kayla Byrd (EgoPo’s The Ways of White Folks, Theatre in the X’s Dreamgirls), Tariq Kanu (Theatre in the X’s Dreamgirls), Kylie Westerbeck (EgoPo’s Curse of the Starving Class, Lydie Breeze Trilogy), Lauren Ackermann (EgoPo’s The Women), Kahlil A. Wyatt (Theatre in the X’s Richard III), Ray Wrightstone (EgoPo’s The Ways of White Folks), Kelly McCaughan (EgoPo’s Delirium), and Taylor J. Mitchell (Theatre in the X’s Dreamgirls).

EgoPo will be working with local schools, nonprofits, and community groups to curate talkbacks and educational presentations. EgoPo will feature concessions and merchandise from businesses owned by people of color and is hosting a Girl’s High Alumni Night performance on Wednesday, April 26th at 7pm, to celebrate the life and legacy of Jessie Redmon Fauset and contributions of womxn to American history and culture. If you are interested in bringing a group of six or more people, please contact us for discounted rates and other benefits as available. 

For tickets or more information, go online at or call 267-273-1414. Tickets start at $32 for the general audience, $20 for students, and $20 for industry professionals. 

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