Sandra Seaton is the librettist of The First Bluebird in the Morning, a newly commissioned Digital Short by composer Carlos Simon (2021).
Sandra Seaton is a playwright and librettist. Her plays have been performed in cities throughout the country, including New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and her libretto for the song cycle From the Diary of Sally Hemings, a collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom, has been sung at such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco and the Rialto Performing Arts Center in Atlanta. In a review of the song cycle’s premiere at the Library of Congress, Seaton’s text was praised by the Washington Post for its “subtle, penetrating power.” A CD of From The Diary of Sally Hemings, with Metropolitan Opera soprano Alyson Cambridge and pianist Lydia Brown, is available from White Pine Music. The score has been published by Hal Leonard.
Seaton’s one-woman drama Sally, in which an aged Sally Hemings recalls her life with Jefferson, premiered in 2003 with Zabryna Guevara as Sally Hemings. Sally was performed at Bucknell University in 2012 as a part of a media event titled Sally: A Montage. Seaton’s play A Bed Made in Heaven further explores the relationship between Jefferson and Sally Hemings.
The Bridge Party, Seaton’s first play, was a finalist for the 1990 Theodore Ward Prize and was given two performances directed by Paul Carter Harrison at Columbia College in Chicago. The play was selected for the anthology Strange Fruit: Plays on Lynching by American Women (1998), edited by Judy Stephens and Kathy Perkins. The Bridge Party portrays a group of southern Black women whose weekly bridge game is interrupted by news of a lynching. Ruby Dee starred in a 1998 performance at the University of Michigan. William Bolcom’s rags provided musical background for The Bridge Party in a 2000 production.
In 2005 Seaton’s spoken word piece, King: A Reflection on the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., premiered at the Wharton Center in East Lansing, Michigan, and has been presented at the Virgil Carr Center in Detroit and the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids with accompaniment by world-famous tenor George Shirley.
In 2008, her play The Will, a drama about a Black family in Tennessee during Reconstruction, premiered in Idlewild, Michigan, at an event Seaton organized that included a symposium, recitals and music clinics. In 2010 her Civil Rights era play Music History, about African-American college students at the University of Illinois in 1963, premiered at MSU in conjunction with a day-long symposium on the cultural and legal issues raised by the play.
Seaton’s recent work includes Chicago Trilogy, made up of the three one-act plays, A Chance Meeting, The Lookout, and Black for Dinner, based on short stories by the African-American Chicago writer Cyrus Colter. A Chance Meeting premiered at the University of Michigan’s Arthur Miller Theater with actors Tony Lucas and George Shirley in 2009. Chicago Trilogy was performed at the 2015 Atlanta Black Theatre Festival, directed by Mardra Thomas, with George Shirley, Mardra Thomas and Keith Williams.
Learn more at SandraSeaton.com.
Sandra Seaton is a former Professor of English at Central Michigan University and the 2010 writer-in- residence for the Michigan State University College of Law. Seaton is a recipient of the Mark Twain Award “for distinguished contributions to Midwestern Literature” from the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature. She has been awarded residencies at Hedgebrook, Ragdale, and Yaddo artists’ colonies and is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Black Theatre Network and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI). In 2015 Sandra Seaton received the Chris Clark Fellowship from the Arts Council of Greater Lansing.