“When We Were Colored, A Mother’s Story,” will be produced by Sacramento Theater Company next spring. The play by Ginger Rutland of Donner Way is written from her mother’s memoir.
Ginger lives on Donner Way with her husband, Don Fields. She wrote the play after she retired from 25 years as an editorial writer for The Sacramento Bee.
The memoir of her mother, Eva Rutland, focuses on family life and growing up in a middle-class black family in post- World War II Sacramento.
When the play was first performed at Pioneer Congregational Church on L Street, a cast problem forced Ginger to step in at the last minute and play the role of her father. Script in hand, she never missed a line.
Now her play is in the hands of theater professionals. It is scheduled to be performed next year from March 20 through April 28 in the intimate 85-seat Pollock Stage at the Sacramento Theatre Company, 1419 H St.
Instrumental to getting the play produced professionally was Stephen Eich, former managing director of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company and more recently of the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. Eich will direct the STC production.
“He loved the play,” Ginger said. “And he’s working to produce it here in Sacramento with professional actors.”
People who saw the original play will find the revised version has more intergenerational tension and a greater range of events that the family lived through, including the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement.
Ginger said her revisions include vignettes from a sequel her mother wrote but never published.