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Review: Sistas on Fire - A Newsical

Feb 28, 2019

“What gets you mad?” This question is posed to the audience during Sistas on Fire, a new theatrical performance at NY City’s East Village Playhouse. Sistas on Fire explores the impact of, and anger about, social issues from an African-American female perspective.

I first learned about this remarkable show when I interviewed co-author Marcia McNair on my Beyond 6 Seconds podcast earlier this month, and then I had the pleasure of seeing the February 24th performance during opening weekend.

Sistas on Fire program

Sistas on Fire centers around a young black female college student (portrayed by Michele Quintero) who receives a writing assignment from her professor to examine a social issue that makes her mad. Her research takes her into the worlds of three women (portrayed by Vickie Carson-Clemons, Michele Quintero and Shanell Sapp) who represent the common African-American woman whose views are marginalized as a whole by society.

Early on, the three women confront and deconstruct the stereotype of the “mad black woman” by illustrating how their legitimate and justified anger is dismissed and mocked. Through a series of vignettes filled with poetry, prose, song and dance, the three women express their raw thoughts and feelings about a multitude of issues that anger them, including the portrayal of black women in popular culture, troubled black male & female relationships, the enduring impact of slavery, and what it means to be American but not feel truly welcome in America. Their honest and vulnerable performances expose the sources of their pain, while also sharing their pride, hopes and dreams for a future of peace, justice and true acceptance.

As the women voice their deepest thoughts and feelings, with the audience hearing and acknowledging them, the student learns how to connect with her own anger. By the end of the show, she recognizes the issues that enrage her and discovers her power to express herself -- not just for her writing assignment, but also for taking the first steps towards sparking change.

Sistas on Fire is also an interactive experience that engages the audience in thought and discussion. At each performance, the audience is asked to share “what gets them mad.” They can either shout it out from their seats or write it on an index card for the cast to read. During this discussion, the audience often realizes that they are angry about many of the same things that the women described during the performance. This common realization helps the audience gain a clearer understanding of what social issues are important to them, and feel empowered to change the things that trouble them the most.

Sistas on Fire is an exceptional opportunity to listen, ask questions, empathize and learn about the issues that black women face on a daily basis that impact all aspects of their lives. The show's message of empowerment demonstrates how, regardless of race, gender, and other characteristics that divide us, we can be unified by our concern about the same issues -- and since we have that in common, we can work together to lead change and make things better.


Show Information:

Sistas on Fire
Written by Marcia L. McNair and Anissa Moore
Directed by Marquis Smalls

Now playing from February 22 – March 17, 2019
East Village Playhouse, New York City
Buy tickets at