Professional Nonprofit Theater on Martha's Vineyard
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24 Church Street, Box 2452, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 | 508-696-6300
Patricia Neal Stage
Written & Performed by April Armstrong

Two Wings to Heaven: The Story of Bessie Coleman

Written and Performed by April Armstrong

Directed by Sara Berg

Music Direction by Mario E. Sprouse

April’s original show tells Bessie’s story from childhood through her graduation at the French aviation school with dialogue, song and movement. Eight characters interact; including a dreamy visit from Harriet Tubman, Joan of Arc and Paul Lawrence Dunbar, the historic figures who gave Bessie the inspiration she needed to succeed.

Show running time is approximately 60 minutes

The performance is perfect for families (ages 12 and up)

Do you know Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman?

Even before Amelia Earhardt and her amazing solo flight over the Atlantic, before Harriet Quimby, and despite Jim Crow laws and a racist environment, Bessie Coleman, a smart but dirt-poor black girl from Waxahatchi, Texas, became the first American Aviatrix to receive an international pilot’s license.

Since no American aviation schools would give her lessons, Bessie learned French, traveled to France and studied at the top aeronautic school there. She learned to be an outstanding pilot and stunt performer. After receiving great recognition for test piloting some of the biggest, most modern planes of the period, she returned to American only to find the doors closed to her due to racial and gender prejudice. Despite these obstacles, she made a successful living as a barnstormer and left a legacy and paved the way for many African American pilots to come.

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