A Publishing Mystery

By Bob and Karen Isaacs

With the advent of Black History Month (February) Stamford Theater Works is offering an intriguing
mystery, Bee-Luther-Hatchee, that concerns the authorship of a book that wins a major literary

An African-American editor publishes the award-winning memoir, Bee-Luther-Hatchee, that recounts
a black woman's life in the segregated South. Now a bestseller, the book's back-story is revealed as
the editor searches for and discovers the reclusive author. However, the discovery is in the first act
and so the mystery is solved. Yet, the revelation of the author, the curtain line to the first act, is not
a shock.

What follows is act two, a dialectical struggle between the author and the editor that turns into an
un-winnable discussion of morality and culture. The discussion, which almost turns into a debate,
seems to go on too long, going over and over the same territory. This is, however, interesting
territory-who owns a culture's stories, who should write it, where is the line between fiction and
reality-and more. After all, the prize-winning book was a "memoir."

In a sense you leave the theater with a feeling of incompleteness and perhaps a little dissatisfaction.

The title of the play is taken from African-American folklore meaning the place one ends up by not
getting off at the last stop or, as explained in the play, "the next stop after hell." Thus you are left, as
are the characters in the play, in a kind of limbo, in Bee-Luther-Hatchee.

The performances are fine under the direction of Patricia R. Floyd but some of the presentations
were confusing. It takes a while to understand the shifts in time and place and the difference
between scenes from the book and contemporary scenes. As so often happens, characters that
seem integral to the story in act 1 just disappear in act 2 leaving you wondering why the focus has
shifted so.

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