Strong. Wise. Unstoppable.: A Poetic Expression of EPIC Tales from the Land of Melanin (May 2018)
by: Olivia Sieck
"On May 18, after a long, hard day at work, my mood completely changed walking into the house for EPIC Tales from the Land of Melanin. I felt a warm, relaxing and imaginative aura walking into the house at Free Street Theater at Pulaski Park. There were scarves and lights hanging from the ceiling and used boxes at the center stage for their set pieces. Also, the first two rows of the house were covered in sleeping bags to make the audience feel more relaxed...
The production, which premiered in Chicago in 2016, is based on real-life women of color and non-Eurocentric fairytales that are blended with a fierce and imaginative story of three, young, female warriors taking on the world. The show showcases important topics about gentrification, colonialism and the power of one’s ancestry. Young audiences will join the heroes by helping them defeat evil creatures through different modes of participation. Audiences will also learn to build skills and about themselves during the adventure. FEMelanin hopes that young people of color can relate and foresee women of color as strong-willed leaders."
Northwestern University Press
Ensemble Made Chicago (Nov. 2018)
by: Coya Paz & Chloe Johnston
"FEMelanin experiments with new creation techniques for each show. Already, their work has ranged from performance art made for galleries and experimental revues, to a full-length interactive play for children. This exercise was developed as they created the latter, Epic Tales from the Land of Melanin. Throughout this process, the ensemble embraced creative workshops: they scheduled arts and crafts time to develop their characters and drew heavily from their experience as teaching artists, using games meant for kids to create a playful aesthetic."
New City Stage
The Other Side of the Curtain: How Community-Engaged, Socially Conscious Theater Is Changing the Landscape of Performance in Chicago (Oct. 2017)
by: Danielle Levsky
"The company members of FEMelanin, a collective of multidisciplinary, self-identified femme artists of color, also want to create art that they would have wanted to see as children. Their latest piece, “Epic Tales from the Land of Melanin,” was performed at the Chicago Fringe Festival and was based on histories of real-life women of color and non-Eurocentric fairytales. Though the show was created with young audiences in mind, their work ranges in age-demographic targets...These theater companies, small performance troupes and large educational organizations share a commonality: a commitment to social justice activism. With every production and art piece, they are exploring and challenging the history of traditional and mainstream theaters, particularly those institutions in Chicago that have kept marginalized and disenfranchised communities out of the conversation for so long."
Social Justice News Network
Exploring Identity in the "Land of Melanin" (June 2018)
by: Mariana Alfaro
"Though the show is tailored to kids, the message of the story is for young and old alike. As the girl-heroes battle all adversities thrown at them by the “Takers” — which in this story represent colonizers and oppressors of people of color — the play is full of jokes and references for both kids and parents."