Written by Sarah Swann
Willimantic, CT -- Reanae McNeal, award-winning playwright, international performing artist and cultural/social activist, will speak at 3 p.m. on March 17 in the Betty R. Tipton Room of the Student Center at Eastern Connecticut State University. The public is invited. Admission is free.
McNeal, who plays more than 15 different African instruments, is a prominent storyteller and self-taught musician. She incorporates blues, jazz, spirituals and the sound of African instruments into her stories.
She has written several plays, including "Black Women in Transition," "Where Have All The Black Men Gone?," "Blues Women Don't Wear No Shoes," "My Soul Got A Bruise On It" and "Who Holds The Mirror." McNeal's plays focus on many issues facing women such as domestic violence, low self-esteem, sexual abuse, discrimination, AIDS, sexism, racism and breast cancer.
Her poetry has been published in journals and has received numerous awards. "A Word" was a national finalist in the 1994 Iowa Woman Poetry Competition. "Brown vs. The Board of Education" won the regional 1994 Texas History Drama Competition, and "Slave Shout" won the 1995 Texas History Drama Competition. Other awards include the Afro-Heart Award; Women of a Stolen Legacy Award; the National Woman of Achievement Award from Sisters United; The prestigious Delta Sigma Theta Ele' Award for Artistic Contributions; Overcoming Faith Award; and The Hope Award for artistic contributions in making women aware of breast cancer.
McNeal encourages her audiences to "be all they are destined to be." She has been described as "the woman who transforms lives." She says, "I have learned in my life to realize traumatic things happen that are really hurtful and painful but even in trauma, hurt and pain, beauty can be birthed."