Simone subject of Stone Center exhibit, play

“Nina Simone … What More Can I Say?” a new exhibit and play honoring the singer and North Carolina native, will open later this month at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The exhibit of rare photographs of Simone’s awards, personal letters and other documents opens Sept. 13 with a 7 p.m. reception at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center’s Robert and Sallie Brown Gallery and Museum. The one-act play will be presented at 7 p.m. Sept. 15 and 2 p.m. Sept. 16, in the Stone Center auditorium. The exhibit and play, both free and open to the public, share the same title.

First proposed by frequent Stone Center collaborator Alden Kimbrough, this project represents the combined efforts and resources of the Alden Kimbrough Collection in Los Angeles, the Carroll Waymon (brother of Nina Simone) Collection of San Diego, Calif., and the archives and personal collection maintained by Crys Armbrust, founder and director of the Nina Simone Memorial Project located in Tryon, Nina’s birthplace.

“Simone lived a detailed life not only as an artist but also as a daughter, sister, mother, friend, and as a leading voice in the social justice movement. She embraced her own uncertainty of life and understood she was on a journey where often there would be no path. This exhibition is only a few miles of that journey,” said Joseph Jordan, Stone Center director and exhibition curator.

In addition to the exhibition, the Stone Center commissioned an original one-act play by award-winning playwright and poet, Howard Craft of Durham, the Stone Center’s artist-in-residence in spring 2012. Craft’s play analyzes the life of Simone and blends a complex tapestry of her music, activism, loves, losses and enduring search for freedom.

Starring as Simone in the one-woman play is professional actress and singer Yolando Rabun. The play is directed by UNC alumna Kathryn Williams, a member of PlayMakers Repertory Company and a lecturer in the department of dramatic art. Lighting for the play was designed by Kathy Perkins, professor in the department of dramatic art.

The exhibition was made possible by support from Kompleks Creative Inc., Wax Poetics Magazine and the Friends of the Robert and Sallie Brown Gallery and Museum.

Published September 4, 2012.