Saffronia by Christiane D. Leach

Drama/ 17 Characters, 11 Women, 6 Men/ Full Length, 90 minutes

Synopsis: Saffronia chronicles the life of a young child stolen from her slave mother, transformed in a New Orleans brothel, sold at a Fancy Girl auction, bought by a young man, at once her master and her lover. It chronicles the somewhat hidden, often romanticized American history of mulatto slavery, and the inherent sexual deviance that underlies breeding for profit.

Saffronia began as a poem by performance poet and Soma Mestizo singer Christiane D. It has been expanded here into a full multimedia performance. The play examines the world of the “mulatto balls” of the ante-bellum south — slave auctions dressed up as debutante balls, where young slave women, groomed in charm schools to be perfect mistresses, were sold as concubines to wealthy plantation owners.

“A full-blooded poetic melodrama about miscegenation and sexual slavery in the antebellum South, complete with a parable of a black woman’s struggle for freedom, the whole then infused with mystical overtones.”
– Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Christiane D. Leach
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About the Playwright: Christiane D. Leach is a visual artist, performance poet, singer, songwriter, playwright, event producer and cultural instigator.

Saffronia debuted at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theatre in Winter 2006. Another work The Only Good Artist is a Dead Artistpremiered at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre in 2007 as part of their Black White Festival. She’s also participated in several other productions, including Now . . . or Just in General, Don Juan, Katrina, Celebrate East Liberty, and performed as the singing narrator in the Playhouse Repertory’s Mother Courage.

She performs her poetry throughout the Pittsburgh area and participated in the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s “She Said” series in 2007. Current efforts include a CD and chapbook of her spoken word poetry.

She has produced various music events with the Element Five group, received a Sprout Fund grant to produce two “MINI m” music festivals and co-produced “Listen To This” with Brooke Schooles, which brought in the world-renowned spoken word artist Ursula Rucker.

Christiane D is co-founder and former Executive Director of Sun Crumbs, a trans-cultural multi-arts non-profit. For two and a half years she worked as the Program Coordinator for the artist non-profit Brew House Association, coordinating exhibitions and performances. Her current job at the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council gives Christiane the opportunity to continue her support of the Pittsburgh arts community.

In 2003 she received the PCA Fellowship for World/Jazz/Blues musical composition, and in 2002 received a Pittsburgh magazine’s “40 under 40” award. In 2007, along with her peers, she was honored at the New Hazlett Theatre’s gala, “Celebrating Women in the Arts”.

Saffronia was first produced at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theatre, Pittsburgh in January, 2006.