“Byrd’s choreography is chilling.” —Joe Addison, AS Review
Strange Fruit draws its title from the 1937 poem and song of the same name by Abel Meeropol and made famous by the great jazz singer Billie Holiday—which metaphorically addresses lynching as a tool of racial terrorism during the Jim Crow Era. For this dance/theater work, the facts of lynching act as springboards into a highly personal interior space and state of mind. Abstract yet grounded in a brutal reality, Strange Fruit tracks choreographer Donald Byrd’s feelings as a response to lynching and plays out as a series of dance/theater vignettes.
Strange Fruit‘s duration is a total of 80-minutes, including a 40-minute performance, 10-minute break, and concludes with a 30-minute talkback. “Rather than a typical “post-show” experience, the talkback, in this case, is an integral part of Strange Fruit.” –Donald Byrd
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Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees
Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop
In 1999 Time designated Strange Fruit as the “song of the century.”
Billy Holiday Biography
Programs in this season are made possible in part by the Alexander Kasser Theater Endowment Fund, PEAK Patrons, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the FACE Foundation, and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.