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Coming to the Strand Theatre: A love letter to hoop earrings and all who wear them

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Coming to the Strand Theatre: A love letter to hoop earrings and all who wear them
“Hoops” cast and creative team members: (left to right, top to bottom) Elijah Brown, Tonasia Jones, Brandie Blaze, Kaili Y. Turner, Karimah Williams, Albamarina Nahar and Eliana Pipes. PHOTO: COURTESY COMPANY ONE

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Just like the people who wear them, hoop earrings come in endless shapes, sizes and colors. Beyond a fabulous fashion accessory, they are a means of ethnic and ancestral expression, particularly for Black, Latine and Indigenous communities. This essential cultural signifier is the basis of “Hoops,” a vibrant, melodic show produced by Company One Theatre and opening at the Strand Theatre in Uphams Corner.

Playwright Eliana Pipes PHOTO: COURTESY COMPANY ONE

“Hoops,” by playwright Eliana Pipes, is performed in a choreopoem style reminiscent of Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls…” and features original music by local hip-hop artist Brandie Blaze, who also stars in the show. The intimate, powerful, familial and feminist stories told in the production are based on “The HOOPS Project” by Nicole Acosta, a series of portraits of people wearing hoop earrings accompanied by their stories of what the earrings mean to them.

“Boston is where I spread my wings as an artist, and I’m thrilled to bring this play to a theater with such a long history of serving the communities that ‘Hoops’ was written to celebrate,” says Pipes, a member of the Flux Lab, one of C1’s Season 25 PlayLab Circuit writing labs. “It’s truly an honor to give our communities space to feel seen, space to laugh, cry and gather with each other.”

Brandie Blaze PHOTO: COURTESY COMPANY ONE

Alongside Blaze, cast members Elijah Brown, Albamarina Nahar, Tiffany Santiago, Kaili Y. Turner and Karimah Williams will tell poignant, rhythmic stories of heritage, family, self-expression and resilience.

Far beyond simply a choice to match an outfit, hoop earrings make a statement for communities of color, one that proudly claims space.

“What’s so exciting to me about “Hoops” is its emotional resonance,” says director Tonasia Jones. “For every moment of success and jubilee you see on stage, there’s a moment that will shake you to your core right around the corner. It’s silly, sassy and gut-wrenchingly real, all at once.”

Director Tonasia Jones PHOTO: COURTESY COMPANY ONE

The show is produced in partnership with Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and the city of Boston’s Office of Arts and Culture. This show also launches Company One Theatre’s three-year summer residency at the Strand, put into motion by the city’s Neighborhood and Downtown Activation Fund.

“Hoops” runs at the Strand Theatre July 12-Aug. 10. As with all Company One productions, the tickets are free and operate on a pay-what-you-can basis. Audience members are encouraged to rock their own hoop earrings.

“There’s a line in the play: ‘I just want something to be mine. It feels like there’s nothing that actually gets to belong to me,’” says Jones. “Well, ‘Hoops’ belongs to Black people. It belongs to Latine people. It belongs to Indigenous people. And it is not afraid to be made by us and for us.”

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