The West Coast Premiere of
Breath and Imagination:
The Story of Roland Hayes
A play with music
by Daniel Beaty
Karan Kendrick and Elijah Rock
Additional Arrangements and Musical Direction
Properties Design & Set Dressing
Production Stage Manager
Scenic Design Assistant
Sound Design Assistant
Light Board Operator
Follow Spot Operator
Shaun L. Motley
Dianne K. Graebner
Jared A. Sayeg
Mary K. Gabrysiak
Robert T. Kyle
Red Colegrove/Grove Scenery
Orlando de la Paz
Mark Bate, Watson Bradshaw, Rene Osvaldo Parrs, Jr.
Cuyler Perry, Christopher Rivera, Matthew Tsang
Andrea Dean, Genetra Tull
(in order of appearance)
Give Me Jesus
Plenty Good Room/Give Me Jesus (Reprise) [Spiritual]
Let’s Have a Union [Spiritual]
Witness [Daniel Beaty]
Golden Slippers [Spiritual]
Roland Preached [Daniel Beaty]
Over My Head [Spiritual]
Round About De Mountain [Spiritual]
Hold On [Spiritual]
Chattanooga [Daniel Beaty]
I Hear Music [Daniel Beaty]
Lord, I Want to Be a Christian [Spiritual]
Roland, an Artist [Daniel Beaty]
Ich grolle nicht [Robert Schumann (1810-56)
from Dichterliebe Text by Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)]
Never Leave Me [Daniel Beaty]
Gia Il Sole Dal Gange [Alessandro Scarlatti (1659-1725)]
My God Is So High [Spiritual]
I Need You [Daniel Beaty]
O Del Mio Dolce Ardor [Christopher Willibald von Gluck
Les Berceaux [Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)]
Were You There [Spiritual]
Don’t You Weep When I’m Gone/Give Me Jesus (Reprise)
Give Me Jesus (Reprise) [Spiritual]
Never Leave Me (Reprise) [Daniel Beaty]
Lord, How Come Me Here [Spiritual]
'Breath and Imagination”
is performed without intermission.
Approximately 90 minutes
Roland Hayes was born in Curryville, Georgia, on June 3, 1887. His
parents, William and Fanny Hayes, were ex-slaves who worked as tenant
farmers to raise their seven children. When William Hayes died from a
work-related injury in 1898, Fanny – whom Roland called Angel Mo' –
moved her family to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Because he had to help
support his family, young Hayes was only able to complete the fifth
grade. He worked in an iron foundry, where he was badly injured when a
conveyor belt pulled him into the machinery.
His mother made certain that he attended church regularly. He sang in
the church choir and studied voice with local choral director Arthur
Calhoun. During this time, he decided that he wanted to make singing a
career. He said:
One day a pianist came
to our church in Chattanooga, and I, as a choir member, was asked to
sing a solo with him. The pianist liked my voice, and he took me in
hand and introduced me to phonograph records by Caruso. That opened the
heavens for me. The beauty of what could be done with the voice just
Although Angel Mo' had been the one who introduced spirituals to Hayes,
she was vehemently opposed to him wasting the money to study voice
privately, instead wanting him to become a minister. Despite her
opposition, Hayes could not ignore the siren call.
He left home in 1905 to become a student in Fisk University's
preparatory program. In addition to his music courses, he sang with the
Fisk Jubilee Singers, and supported himself as a waiter. Just before he
was to graduate, he was informed by the teacher who had sponsored his
studies that he was going to be expelled from school. Years later, the
school presented him with an honorary doctoral music degree – one of
eight he received over his career.
Hayes joined the Jubilee Singers when they toured in 1911. When they
returned to Nashville, he decided to relocate to Boston, believing that
he had a better chance of becoming a professional musician in the north
than in the south.
Years later, he commented in his biography that:
I can say truly that
never in my whole life have I wished I were a white man; but I confess
that there were times, long ago, when it seemed difficult to be a Negro
in a white world. In the South, I had been carefully taught my "place,"
and I did not suppose that in the North my place would be, in the
beginning, less restricted than at home; but I had somehow hoped that I
would not so frequently be reminded of it.
In April 1920, he sailed for London, where he gave a critically
successful recital at Wigmore Hall and was "commanded" to perform
before British royalty. This led to engagements in cities across
Europe. Most received him warmly, but he had difficulties when he went
to Berlin. He described the performance:
Well, I came out on
stage, and there was a burst of hissing that lasted about ten minutes.
I just stood there, and then I decided to change my program. As soon as
it was quiet, I began with Schubert's "Du bist die Ruh." I could see a
change come over the hostile faces, and by the end of the song I knew I
He returned to the United States in 1923 and began touring the country.
Southern venues would not engage him initially, but he soon sang to an
integrated audience in Atlanta, as well as performing in other southern
cities. He spent most of the next two decades giving vocal
recitals and performing with orchestras throughout the United States
and Europe. It is estimated that his income for 1924 approached
$100,000 (according to the Historical Statistics of the United
States : Colonial Times to 1957, the per capita income in 1920 was
He was given a hero's welcome when he sang in the Soviet Union in 1928.
Unlike Paul Robeson, who made his first visit to the country
six years later, Hayes did not embrace socialism as an alternative to
America's political disenfranchisement of African Americans. He stopped
touring in Europe in the 1930's because the changes in the political
climate were no longer friendly to a black man.
He married his cousin Helen Alzada Mann in September 1932. They had a
daughter, Afrika Franzada.
From the 1940's until his retirement in 1973, Hayes performed annual
recitals at Carnegie Hall in New York and concerts at Fisk and other
colleges. He purchased and settled on the Georgia farm where his
parents had been tenant farmers in his youth. His biography, Angel Mo' and Her Son,
was published in 1942 and a collection of
spirituals set for solo voice, My
Favorite Spirituals: 30 Songs for Voice and Piano,
Roland Hayes died at the age of 89 at Boston General Hospital on
January 1, 1977. Author Marva Carter summed up his life and
Roland Hayes' life of
almost ninety years reveals a remarkable story of a man who went from
the plantation to the palace, performing before kings and queens, with
the finest international and American orchestras, in segregated
communities before blacks and whites alike. He was of dignified manner
and non-violent persuasion. He chose to overcome racism by example and
in doing so became a trailblazer. When he sang, art became more than
polished excellence. It appealed to something universal, something
beyond the emotions, and something beyond the intellect, something one
could call the soul.
production is dedicated to the memory of Lee Melville
This past May, the LA Theatre Community lost one of its greats. Lee
Melville, a fierce champion of theatre in LA.
In his more than 50-year theatre career, Lee held multiple roles that
included actor, stage manager, producer, and critic. As a critic, Lee
could be harshly honest. However, he was always in service to the
reader, and the theatre-going public. He believed that the role of a
reviewer is not to bring something down, or give it an artificial lift.
For twelve years, Lee oversaw the now-defunct publication Drama-Logue.
While he was the editor, the publication grew from printing mainly
casting notes to containing full theatre reviews and features. Also,
during his tenure, the annual Drama-Logue Theatre Awards were
established. Ask anyone who was involved in LA theatre at that time and
they will tell you that Drama-Logue’s influence in uniting and
illuminating our rich theatre scene was incalculable under his
In 2001, Lee started the monthly magazine LA Stage, which would later
be absorbed by LA Stage Alliance, the service organization for Los
Angeles theatres, to become LA Stage Times. Through this organization,
Lee became intimately involved in the Ovation Awards, and served on the
Ovation Rules Committee for many, many years. As a voter, he saw around
4 to 5 shows per week!
In an interview, Lee said, “They ask me how I can go to theatre four or
five times a week. I just look at them and ask how they can watch
television four or five nights a week. Everyone has their own church at
which they worship. Mine happens to be the theatre.”
Lee attended each and every opening night at The Colony. His presence,
his smile, his sharp wit, his elegance, and his friendship shall be
missed greatly. In June, his memorial was held here at our theatre, and
the entire theatre community came to pay tribute. As further tribute, a
seat in our theatre has been dedicated to the immense legacy of Lee
Melville. A true man of the theatre.
FROM THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
What a year it’s been!
You may recall that last October we went public with the dire news that
our future was in jeopardy – the economic downturn that began in 2008
had caused a reduction in charitable support and audience size that
produced a crippling budget shortfall. Our next production, The Morini Strad
starring Mariette Hartley, was already in rehearsal, but unless we
raised $49,000 within two weeks we would have to cancel the production
and, likely, the rest of the season.
The outpouring of support was staggering, and we reached our $49,000
goal in ten days. Morini
But the balance of the season was still in question. Contributions
continued to pour in, which was tremendously gratifying, but it still
wasn’t enough to continue the season.
Then an anonymous supporter stepped up and loaned us the funds to mount
the last two shows of the season, including our surprise hit Falling for Make Believe
was an unimaginable relief – we cherish our subscribers, and our
nightmare was leaving them holding tickets they couldn’t use.
But what of the future? We did NOT want to sell subscriptions
to a new season unless we were absolutely sure we could deliver it –
and it didn’t look good.
Then, a miracle.
For many years we had a pair of subscribers named Wayne and Marilyn
Kohl, who were generous donors. Marilyn passed away, then Wayne, but
their latest donation was still listed in the program.
Over the Christmas holiday, Executive Director Trent Steelman was home
in Colorado. His father was looking through the donor pages of our
programs to see if he recognized any names, and saw the Kohls listed.
It struck him that they might be related to a close friend who was
connected to the Kohl Family Foundation. He called his friend, who told
him Wayne was his brother! So Trent's father put him on the phone with
From there Trent embarked on a journey with the Kohl family that
entailed countless phone calls and emails, reams of paperwork, and even
a Skype presentation.
It took 4-1/2 months.
The upshot was that the newly-formed Marilyn P. & Wayne H. Kohl
Memorial Fund made a major grant to The Colony, enough to announce a
new season with confidence. (As Tennessee Williams famously wrote in A Streetcar Named Desire,
“Sometimes there’s God so quickly.”)
Our gratitude knows no bounds.
Sandra Kay Beckley Brad Brown
Brooks Gardner & Burbank High School
David Carpenter Luke Moyer Chris Osborne
Wadler Data Systems Phil Torf & House of
Treibitz & Hollywood Piano