Oct 15 - Nov 21, 2021 in Goodman's Owen Theatre

Around 1 hour and 10 minutes with no intermission

Inspired by the life of famed civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer and performed and sung by Chicago’s E. Faye Butler, this passionate rally cry defines what it means to be a true revolutionary.

Fannie Lou Hamer, the 1960s civil rights activist whose bravery, humor and grit reminds us that there's courage in the face of fire, hope in tomorrow and that we all have a stake in our country. Replete with music and spirituality, this electric, immersive call to action defines what it means to be a true revolutionary. A Goodman commission, Ms. West's play appeared in the 2019 New Stages Festival, and in abridged form, Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It!, in Chicago parks in fall 2020.

Originally co-commissioned and developed by Goodman Theatre and Seattle Repertory Theatre, with additional development by Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Read Content Advisory Info
  • Fannie (The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer) is appropriate for ages 14 and up. It contains mature themes and descriptions of violence. For more information contact the box office at 312.443.3800

Please note: Proof of vaccination (fourteen days after second dose for ages 12+; fourteen days after first dose for children 5 – 11) with an FDA or WHO-authorized vaccine is required for all guests. For unvaccinated children under 12 and other exceptions, a recent negative COVID-19 test will be accepted. Masks are required at all times while inside Goodman Theatre. Learn more GoodmanTheatre.org/Protocols.

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Critical Praise
  • [E. Faye Butler is] "a Chicago star of the highest wattage”

    - Chicago Tribune

  • "Fannie Lou Hamer takes us to church"

    - Chicago Reader

  • "The magnificent E. Faye Butler [is] the perfect performer to play Fannie Lou Hamer"

    - Chicago Sun-Times

  • "The indomitable E. Faye Butler dazzles in the titular role, sucking the audience in like a whirlpool"

    - Chicago Reader

  • “A richly layered performance that is both welcoming to all people and highly entertaining

    - Chicago Tribune

Audience Response
  • Dynamic performance, and essential message...May we each demonstrate Fannie Lou Hamer's courage and strength.

    Lillian W. via Facebook

  • E. Faye Butler gave a powerful delivery and challenged every person in every seat!

    DrNayshon M. via Facebook

  • This show should be a must see for everyone. The acting was superb and the message [is] still relevant.

    Billie G. via Facebook

  • Energetic, Realistic, and Truthful Performance! Awesome show!

    GL R. via Facebook

  • This was everything and more!! It made me laugh, sing, want to cry and gave me joy...A must-see play.

    Sasha R. via Facebook

  • Entertaining while also sharing a great message...it shows we have moved down the road in the civil rights movement since the early days, but by no means far enough.

    Undine S. via Facebook

  • Cheryl L. West

    Cheryl L. West Playwright

  • Henry Godinez

    Henry Godinez Director

  • E. Faye Butler

    E. Faye Butler Fannie Lou Hamer

  • Felton Offard

    Felton Offard Music Director/Arranger

  • Deonté Brantley

    Deonté Brantley Musician

  • Morgan E.

    Morgan E. Musician

  • Michael Ross

    Michael Ross Musician

  • Melody A. Betts

    Melody A. Betts Understudy

  • Buddy Fambro

    Buddy Fambro Musician Alternate

  • Dominique Johnson

    Dominique Johnson Musician Alternate

  • Collette Pollard

    Collette Pollard Scenic Designer

  • Michael Alan Stein

    Michael Alan Stein Costume Designer

  • Jason Lynch

    Jason Lynch Lighting Designer

  • Victoria Deiorio

    Victoria Deiorio Sound Designer

  • Rasean Davonte Johnson

    Rasean Davonte Johnson Projection Designer

  • Mr. Bernard

    Mr. Bernard Wig Designer

  • Kaitlin Kitzmiller

    Kaitlin Kitzmiller Stage Manager

  • Lauren Port

    Lauren Port Casting

  • Christine Sumption

    Christine Sumption Dramaturg

  • Heather Boehm

    Heather Boehm Music Contractor

  • Tasia A. Jones

    Tasia A. Jones Associate Director

  • Seth Mann Torres

    Seth Mann Torres Asst. Lighting Designer


Join us for any of the following accessible performances.

Questions? Please contact 312.443.3800 (voice), 312.443.3829 (TTY/TDD) or email Access@GoodmanTheatre.org.

Touch Tour and Audio Described performanceTouch Tour* and Audio-Described Performance
Sunday, November 7
12:30pm Touch Tour & 2pm Performance

American Sign Language Interpreted PerformanceAmerican Sign Language-Interpreted Performance
Saturday, November 13 at 2pm

Open Caption Performance Open-Captioned Performance
Sunday, November 14 at 2pm

See All Accessibility Information for Fannie (The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer)

*Touch Tours for the 2021/2022 Season will not have access to the stage due to current health and safety protocols, but will feature alternate pre-show sensory introductions.

Recommended Reads
  • Chicago Tribune Review

    Review: E. Faye Butler shows us a fuller side of Fannie indoors at the Goodman Theatre

    Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

    "This remarkable actress emphasizes a more existential theme, showing us how Hamer was always keeping on, keeping on, her eyes on the prize and marching her way toward freedom for both herself and others. The dominant metaphor now is the persistence and importance of our journey through life and, really, what becomes possible for those who refused to be bowed..."


  • Chicago Reader Review

    Fannie Lou Hamer Takes Us To Church

    Sheri Flanders, Chicago Reader

    "The indomitable E. Faye Butler (A Christmas Carol; Caroline, or Change) dazzles in the titular role, sucking the audience in like a whirlpool..."


  • A Tough Act to Follow

    A Tough Act to Follow

    By Thomas Connors

    Chicago's E. Faye Butler is Fannie. Learn more about her journey to a life on stage, and how she fills Ms. Hamer's formidable shoes.


  • Votes for (Some) Women

    Votes for (Some) Women
    How the Suffrage Movement Left Black Women Out

    By Neena Arndt

    Resident dramaturg Neena Arndt recounts the history of the Women's Suffrage Movement, delving into how and why people of color were excluded from progress, and why the activism of Fannie Lou Hamer was so vital in the fight for all women to secure the right to vote.


  • A Timeline of Fannie Lou Hamer's Life

    A Timeline of Fannie Lou Hamer's Life

    Explore the timeline of Fannie Lou Hamer's life, including the origins of her political activism and her continuous efforts for civil rights.


Season Overview

Welcome back to your home for theater, Goodman Theatre.

A thrilling line-up awaits as we return to stage and resume performances. The 2021/2022 Season reflects the artistic excellence that you love, and the commitment to our Chicago community that you expect. Come share the moments—together, in-person, once again—that inspire our collective humanity.