Kim Brockington as Zora Neale Hurston: Our Stories in History

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Kim Brockington's Zora Neale Hurston portrayal featured for Black History Month

The National Black Touring Circuit featured Kim
Brockington as Zora Neale Hurston, in a one woman play written by Laurence
Holder, and directed by Wynn Handman, as part of the Black History Month Play
Festival which runs through February 26th, wherein shows such as “The Good
Fight: A Phillip Randolph” starring Ralph McCain, was held February 3-5; Zora
Neale Hurston ran February 10th through 12th; “Adam” is running at the Dwyer
Cultural Center, at 258 St. Nicholas Avenue in Manhattan, February 17-19, starring
Timothy Simonson, and  I, Barbara Jordan”
starring Toni Seawright, finishes out the series at the National Black Theatre,
located at 2031 Fifth Avenue, on February 24-26th.  Call the respective venues for tickets.

“I wouldn’t be doing Zora if it weren’t for Woodie
King, Jr., and Elizabeth Van Dkye. 
Initially Elizabeth was portraying Zora with Joseph Edwards.  The show was top shelf.  I caught her show and was very
impressed.  A year later, Woodie called
me to say Elizabeth could not do the show in Bethlehem, PA and asked whether I
could I go on in her place.  I did not
have to do anything but say ‘yes.’  And I
did.  Elizabeth was generous and gave me
the blocking.  Woodie gave me the script
and I had 6 weeks to get ready for it.  I
had some pretty big shoes to fill.  I
started playing the role whenever Elizabeth could not do a performance,” said
Kim Brockington. 

“I have always been interested in the life of Zora
Neale Hurston.  Born in Notasulga,
Alabama in 1891, Zora was the fifth of eight children.  Zora was a fun loving, outrageous, bodacious
individual who was all about getting her art out to the world.  She became the literary queen of the Harlem
Renaissance.  “Her Eyes Were Watching God
was one of her most famous books,” stated Kim who loves portraying the role.

Ms. Brockington portrayed Zora in a PBS
documentary.  “I talk about Zora’s
childhood in the PBS version,” remarked the talented performer.  “Zora’s mother died when Zora was young and
it changed Zora’s whole world.  Her
father married very soon afterward. 
Zora’s father was a ladies man and always a bit scandalous.  His new wife did not like Zora, so Zora was
sent her off to school.  Eventually, her
father stopped paying for school and she was kicked out.  She got a job in a traveling theatrical show
as a maid.  Zora always loved
storytelling, thus it’s no surprise she became a writer.  She returned to school attending Morgan where
she finished high school. By the time she got to Howard University, she was
writing.  She was 28.  She went on to Barnard where she majored in
anthropology."

Ahead of her time, Zora was a poet, writer and
anthropologist, who won several awards and contests.  Eventually she won a Guggenheim Fellowship
allowing her to travel to Jamaica and Haiti, where she studied African voodoo
rituals.  Hurston continued her research
in America’s southland where she collected and wrote about African American
folklore.

During the Harlem Renaissance era, a lot of the
artists had patrons who sponsored their work. 
Charlotte Mason was Zora’s patron. 
Ms. Mason was an influential woman who gave Zora money for clothes,
books and lodging.  Langston Hughes also
had a patron but criticized Zora for allowing her patronage to go on too
long.  Charlotte Mason, who insisted Zora
called her “Godmother,” was very controlling and wanted to control Zora’s art,
forcing Zora to acquiesce to Charlotte demands. 
Zora felt smothered, frustrated and angry under Godmother’s control.  Finally, she got away from Godmother after
publishing Jonah’s Gourd Vine in 1934. 
"Moses, Man of the Mountain" was published in 1939.  Ms. Hurston’s periodicals were published in
The Saturday Evening Post, and  American
Mercury.  She contributed to "Woman
in the Suwannee County Jail," a book written by journalist William
Bradford Hule.  As a folklorist, Hurston
oftentimes wrote in the dialect of her subject matter, utilizing speech
patterns of the period she documented. 
“Mules and Men,” was another of her works.

Zora studied voodoo in New Orleans and became a
voodoo priestess. She established a school of dramatic arts at Bethune
College.  Then while Zora was in Honduras
she was falsely accused of child molestation in the United States.  This took a toll on Zora.  Even though she was able to prove her
innocence the damage had been done. 
Accusations, primarily detailed in the black press, ruined her
life.  It became difficult for Zora to
find work or get her work published.  She
took work where she could find it and freelanced for magazines. Broke, tired
and disappointed, Zora went home to Alabama where she found work as a
maid.  She died, buried in an unmarked
grave.  Alice Walker resurrected
Hurston’s work posthumously.

Kim Brockington was born in Baltimore, Maryland. An
only child, Kim started performing at 5 years old.  Acting and singing has always been in her
blood.  She went to Morgan State for a
year and transferred to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.  She has been acting ever since.  

She will be performing her one-woman show on Zora at
Georgia State University in Atlanta on March 12th for Women’s Month; in May,
she is slated to perform Zora in Baltimore and perhaps another performance in
New Jersey in June. Her other credits include an Audelco Award for Outstanding
Performance for Archbishop Supreme Tartuffe in 2009. She performed Darlene in
“In Walks Ed.” She was nominated for another Audelco Award for “Coming Apart
Together.”  In TV and Film, Kim appeared
in the Spike Lee pilot “Da Brick.”  She
has appeared in soaps “The Guiding Light,” “One Life to Live,” and “All My
Children.”  Ms. Brockington guest starred
in West Wing, Third Watch, Law and Order Criminal Intent and in films “Rock the
Paint,” "School of Rock,” “Love Songs,” and “Dirty Laundry.” 

Interested parties can find out more about Kim
Brockington via www.kimbrockington.com

 

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