‘Lost and Found’ to highlight women’s health through theater

Sweet Briar College’s Babcock Season will culminate this month with a one-woman show by theater professor Adanma Barton. Offering a “candid look at women’s health issues,” Barton will stage “Lost and Found” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 30, in the black box theater at Babcock Fine Arts Center.

Adanma Barton
Adanma Barton

Barton is an associate professor of theater at Berea College in Kentucky. Founded in 1855, Berea College was the first interracial and coeducational college in the South. Students who attend Berea do so tuition-free but are required to work a minimum of 10 hours per week in a labor position on campus.

Barton says that soon after she arrived at Berea in 2009, she began teaching her students “that theater can be used as a tool to promote conversation and social change.” Her course Feminist Solo Performance challenged students to explore “various methods of storytelling that enhance perspectives on issues pertaining to women,” Barton said.

A generous grant from the college allowed Barton to go on sabbatical for the 2016-2017 school year — “Lost and Found” is her sabbatical project. In it, Barton explores the societal taboos that surround miscarriage and infertility.

“So many women suffer in silence, and it is my hope that this production gives women the opportunity to speak up and speak out,” Barton said.

Sweet Briar is just one of many stops for Barton as she takes her one-woman show to colleges and universities around the country. Each 45-minute production will be followed by a talkback with Barton, as well as a local gynecologist and a grief counselor.

Colleagues and theater professionals who have seen Barton “in action” attest to her unique skills as an educator and artist.

One of them is bell hooks, a distinguished professor in residence at Berea College who also works in women and gender studies. “In all my works on transformative pedagogy, I urge professors and students to be fully engaged,” hooks said, according to the artist’s press release. “Adanma Barton, in her multidisciplinary work in theater, black studies and women studies, embodies the very best of engaged teaching and learning.”

It’s one of the reasons award-winning novelist and playwright Silas House believes Barton is “one of the most exciting directors in the region.”

House teamed up with Barton in 2012 to stage his Appalachian play “This Is My Heart For You” and last year, when the duo starred in “In These Fields,” a folk opera House co-wrote with songwriter Sam Gleaves.

“Adanma is an amazing teacher,” House said, according to the release. “She cares deeply about her students and works incredibly hard to make sure they are learning as much as possible. Her passion for learning is infectious, and it sets a fire in her students.”

Barton is the first African-American woman to serve as president of the Kentucky Theatre Association and the first to serve on the executive committee for the Southeastern Theatre Conference, the largest conference of its kind in North America.

Seating for “Lost and Found” is limited; advance reservations are strongly encouraged. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for students and free for the Sweet Briar community. The event is not suitable for children under 16. Tickets are available through the box office only at boxoffice@sbc.edu or (434) 381-6120.

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