The Savannah Children’s Theatre is set to tackle racial biases, social injustice and discrimination in their new children’s musical “Backpack of Power” written by Savannah’s own Kendra Norwood Brown.
“This is a story about a boy in his journey into the world and the ugly truth that these things still exist. He can turn the other cheeks, ignore it, walk away. He could be angry and turn what he does. That’s hard, but it’s powerful,” said Brown.
In 2020, we were in lockdown as the pandemic unfolded and in the midst of this much of the other international news was about the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. These events inspired Brown to write this musical.
“At the time on my son was turning one—and he shares the same birthday with Ahmaud Arbery, which is May 8—I was heartbroken because I had the opportunity to celebrate my son’s birthday, but his mom did not. I had the opportunity to hear his voice and to see his face, but she did not,” said Brown who is now expecting he second child this year.
Brown knew then that something had to be done. She recognized that children, no matter their color or walk of life, were hurting because they were dealing with the pandemic and the news of the various deaths displayed on TV and online.
Brown and Savannah Children’s Theatre founder and artistic director Kelie Miley has some ideas about creating something to help the children better understand things during this time.
“I am a songwriter and that is when I take the pen and paper and just write my feeling, and then it turns into something else. Before we knew it, we had a full-length children’s musical about an hour, what we call it now, Backpacking Power,” said Brown.
The follows a young Black boy named Kevin who navigates racial biases, social injustice and discrimination and he has his dandy backpack, that is a family heirloom, that helps him tackle these things throughout his journey.
“The energy being a part of something new and fresh and watching it come to life is exciting. I cried again because that feeling of hearing those words that you put on paper come to life with music and people,” said Brown.
Savannah Children’s Theatre is excited about this production and they are a group that is proud of being diverse and inclusive. They bring various groups together to tell so many drifferent kinds of stories.
“We’re bringing up a community of children who need to feel seen and heard. It’s important they are heard and those voices are cared for. We want everyone to come and see it no matter who you are, the color of your skin. We want you to come and see this play. We want the world to learn from it and enjoy it,” said Brown.
The show will be April 22 and 29 at 7 p.m. and April 23, 24, 30 and May 1 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $17 for adults and $14 for seniors, military, and children ages 1 – 18. Purchase tickets at savannahchildrenstheatre.org