Welcome to Between the Bylines, the official blog for Author Gabrielle Pina, writer of the best selling novels for smart fiction readers Bliss and Chasing Sophea and now successful playwright of the one woman show starring Vanessa Bell Calloway,“Letters From Zora” based on the life of Zora Neale Hurston.
Come inside the mind and the pages of a spirited, mildly neurotic, ultra-creative author. Comment on books and share your thoughts with other readers, find out what she’s reading now and more.
She is a professor, writer, college student advisor, novelist and mother. On Saturday, March 3, 2012, Gabriel Pina added, “acclaimed playwright” to her long list of accomplishments. A packed house at The University of Southern California’s Bovard Auditorium came out to the evening performance of Ms. Pina’s “Letters from Zora.” The play is about the exciting and controversial life of Zora Neale Hurston. Before the evening was over the crowd had travelled from Hurston’s birthplace in Notsaluga, Alabama (1881), her adopted home of Harlem, to South America and across the world and back with America’s “first cougar”, writer extrodinaire, Zora Neale Hurston.
The one woman play, starring the award winning actress Vanessa Bell Calloway was magnificent in every way. In addition to placing of Ms. Pina’s magnificent writing talents on display, the performance highlighted the acting talents of Ms. Calloway. The choice and use of live music, along with screened snippets of the life and time of Ms. Hurston, told of the good times with her friend Langston Hughes, and other black writing giants from the Harlem Renaissance years, to the hard times of being Black, losing her benefactor and being forced into teaching to earn a living which was a job she was not fond of, to say the least. It is not clear whether she disliked long time marriages or teaching less, as she was married many times, and none lasted long. But as you are transported back to the memory of her life, which was memorialized in her letters from the past including her time with her young sweet thing, Percy (one of her husbands, 20 years her junior), you knew that Zora Neale Hurston lived a life worth living. As a credit to both Ms. Pina’s writing and Ms. Calloway’s acting, you can’t help but believe that Hurston’s good times outnumbered her bad times.