Delany Sisters Recall A Century At Philadelphia Theatre Company

Philadelphia Theatre Company kicks off the new year with the inspiring and warm-hearted “Having Our Say, The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years by Emily Mann. Adapted from the book by Miss Sarah (Sadie) L. Delany and Dr. A. Elizabeth (Bessie) Delany with Amy Hill Hearth, the show runs January 27 through February 19.

PTC plays at the Suzanne Roberts Theater. (Photo By: sameold2010/Flickr)

PTC plays at the Suzanne Roberts Theater. (Photo By: sameold2010/Flickr)

Like molasses and vinegar, 103-year-old Sadie Delany and 101-year-old Bessie Delany have always been opposites; but together, these daughters of a former slave grew up in the Jim Crow South, lived in Harlem during its renaissance, and had professional careers as a teacher and a dentist, respectively. While making dinner and baking a cake to remember their father’s birthday, the two sisters share their endearing, true story of the last century as they lived it – through stories of racial injustice and personal strife, unified by faith, family, and time.

Directed by Mary B. Robinson, the cast features Perri Gaffney and Cherene Snow as the two Delany sisters.

Tickets start at $15 and are available by calling the PTC Box Office at 215-985-0420 or visiting

Throughout the run of the production, the Company will host multiple, free community engagement events inviting audience members to “have their say.”  On January 27-31 PTC will be the first theatre in Philadelphia to participate in the People’s State of the Union Action, a nation-wide project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture conducting story circles at the theater that will then be part of a collaboratively composed Poetic Address to the Nation. In collaboration with Mt. Airy Art Garage PTC will host a “Having Our Say” Exhibition, a fine art pop-up show displaying the work of local artists running January 27-February 19 in the second floor lobby.  On February 8, PTC will partner with First Person Arts and the PNC Story Sparked Story Booth Project to present audience members with an opportunity to record their own family story and receive a sound file to keep and share.

“Having Our Say, The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years” is based on the 1993 best-selling book of oral history written by the two Delany sisters with New York Times reporter Amy Hill Hearth.  On the New York Times best-seller list for six months, the book was recognized as one of the Best Books of 1994 by the American Library Association and presented with the Christopher Award for Literature and an American Booksellers Book of the Year Award.  The book was adapted for the stage by McCarter Theatre Artistic Director Emily Mann and premiered on Broadway in 1995.

“Given the tumultuous times in which we live, this is the perfect moment for us all to hear from these two wise and inspirational women,” said PTC’s Executive Producing Director Sara Garonzik.  “Besides being extremely entertaining, they are also living witnesses to an American century that laid the groundwork for where we are as a nation today.”

Luner on Theatre's Philadelphia Theatre Correspondent, Dan Luner.

Luner on Theatre’s Philadelphia Theatre Correspondent, Dan Luner.

LUNER LOWDOWN: While I wouldn’t agree with Ms. Garonzik’s use of the word, ‘tumultuous,’ I do agree that this run is very fitting and relevant for the current state of the Nation. I only hope that it will keep the conversation going on the racial injustices that are occurring throughout our communities. Overall, I think this is an excellent choice by PTC to start off 2017 with “Having Our Say.”

Photo courtesy of:

Mary B. Robinson (Director) returns to PTC where she has directed Disgraced, Outside Mullingar, 4,000 Miles, At Home at the Zoo, Third, Dinner with Friends, This is Our Youth, Molly Sweeney, and Three Viewings. Her work is also known to Philadelphia audiences from her five years as Artistic Director of the Philadelphia Drama Guild, where she directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, A Moon for the Misbegotten, A Normal Life, Dancing at Lughnasa, and Of Mice and Men (Barrymore Award), among others.

Perri Gaffney (Miss Sarah L. (Sadie) Delany ) is the winner of both the Black Theatre Alliance Award and the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago Award for Best Actress in The Resurrection of Alice, which also garnered her a Helen Hayes nomination and an AUDELCO nomination.  She has received two additional AUDELCO nominations for her work in The Waiting Room and Harlem Duet, a Helen Hayes nomination for Polk County, and a Theatre Tampa Bay nomination for Steel Magnolias.  

Cherene Snow (Dr. A. Elizabeth (Bessie) Delany) appeared on Broadway in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and in the world premieres of Walking Down Broadway and The Last of the Thorntons.  Her regional credits includes the Goodman Theatre in The Little Foxes, Cincinnati Playhouse in Civil War Voices, and both Hartford Stage and Cleveland Playhouse in Doubt, as well as performances at Ford’s Theatre, George Street Playhouse, and ATL Humana Festival.  On television she has co-starred in Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, Third Watch, and Caroline in the City.

“Having Our Say” brings together a creative team of set designer Jason Simms, lighting designer Dennis Parichy, costume designer Sarita Fellows, sound designer Christopher Colucci, and projections designer Chrisopher Ash.  

Tickets range from $15-62 with student, senior citizen and group discounts available as well. Buy in-person at Suzanne Roberts Theatre, Monday – Friday 10:30 AM – 5:30 PM, by phone via (215) 985-0420 or online at

Featured Photo courtesy of: Philadelphia Theatre Company website

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