Family: The Roots That Keep You Standing

By Jezail Jackson, Macaroni Kid Chicago
Apr 2, 2019

The story of the Watsons is one for every family member to see. It’s a performance that reminds us of the true purpose of family. We learn through the Watsons the difficulties many African American families faced in the 1960s. We also learn that bravery, tradition, and perseverance are key roles in a family structure. The Watsons teach us the importance of families sticking together and that seeing…even the most difficult things, can lead us to be empowered.  We also learn much about the effects of PTSD on African American families throughout the civil rights era.

As I sat, witnessing this amazing performance, which brought me tears for many reasons, I was in awe of the entire production. This is one performance, you do NOT want to miss.

Be sure to go to the Chicago Children’s theater and meet the Watsons, an African-American family of five, who live in Flint, Michigan. When oldest son Byron starts getting into trouble, it’s decided he needs to be sent to Birmingham, Alabama to live with his grandma to get set straight. So the whole family – Mama, Daddy, Byron, Kenny and Joetta – sets out on a cross-country journey in the family car, the “Brown Bomber.” When they make it to Birmingham, they find more than they bargained for –a city simmering with tension during the height of the civil rights movement. This powerful story reminds us that during times of crisis, hope reveals itself in the forms of family, friendships, learning, growing and evolving.

Since Chicago Children’s Theatre’s founding, The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 has been the #1 new play request from one of the company’s most important audiences – Chicago teachers. The company’s all-new production of Curtis’s Newbery-winning book debuts March 30-April 18, 2019 at Chicago Children’s Theatre, 100 S. Racine in the city’s West Loop neighborhood. Public performances are Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Exception: No shows Easter Sunday, April 21. Single tickets are $25-$41. Visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call Chicago Children’s Theatre Guest Services, (312) 374-8835, for single tickets, subscriptions, information on school performances and group rates.

The Watsons Go To Birmingham –1963 is appropriate for adults and children 9 years old and up.



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