Black is The Color Of My Voice

Black is the colour of my voice adelaide fringe 2023

Adelaide Fringe. James Seabright and Play The Spotlight. Tandanya. 28 Feb 2023


Apphia Campbell, playwright/actor has taken on a great challenge.


Daring to subsume the iconic jazz songs of Eunice Kathleen Waymon, known to us as Nina Simone, into a fabric of story celebrating a life devoted to song as activism supporting black civil rights. She did not fail the challenge.


Songs serve as a fully integrated strand of narrative, illuminating Simone’s deeply personal story and informing her art and life, as support acts throwing light on the greater story - not as the star attraction.


Campbell’s script is so winsomely deft in construction, centred around Simone’s mournful longing for her late father three days after his death. This simple linchpin is powerfully effective in providing a point to which Campbell can return to, each time she prepares to launch into the next stage of Simone’s story. Moving from childhood hopes of a classical pianist career to the face of a human rights movement.

Equally effective and simple is the set design and props. A simple single bed at which a suitcase sits on the floor end, cane chair and table with a telephone.


From the suitcase props are drawn out; letters, hats, a dress, a coat. Each simple thing adds more emotional nuance to the performance. It is show and tell with profound, yet understated, poetic depth.


Campbell as Nina Simone shimmers with passion and a deep, unaffected simple humility of being. Her interpretation of Simone’s songs is rich in the love and pain they are famed for, each filled with an expression of loss and yearning that nonetheless, has light of hope at the heart of them.


David O’Brien


Where: Tandanya Aboriginal Cultural Institute Ngunyawayti Theatre

When: 27 Feb to 5 Mar