THE BLUEST EYE Community Engagement Events

Virginia Stage Company is thrilled to present a series of community engagement events in support of the upcoming production of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. Produced in collaboration with Norfolk State University Theatre Company, and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Virginia Stage is committed to continuing the dialogue that springs from the topics highlighted in The Bluest Eye both at the Wells Theatre and in our greater Hampton Roads community. These in-school and in-community conversations include panel discussions and talk-backs with the actors and director, Khanisha Foster, as well as the activists and scholars that lead Hampton Roads.



March 9, Opening Night Talkback
Khanisha Foster, The Bluest Eye Director
Tom Quaintance, VSC’s Producing Artistic Director

March 10, “Colorism & Prejudice” Talkback Panel
Moderated by Barbara Hamm Lee
Dr. Khadijah Miller (Norfolk State University)
Saige Hill (Old Dominion University)
Neisha Himes (G.R.O.W. Foundation, Inc.)

March 15, Actor Talkback

March 17, “Toni Morrison and Adaptation” Talkback Panel
Dr. Remica Bingham-Risher (Old Dominion University)
Dr. Désiré  Baloubi (Norfolk State University)
Dr. Artisia V. Greene (The College of William and Mary)
Dr. Page Laws (Norfolk State University)

March 22, Actor Talkback


Please take time before and after the show to explore the the lobbies of the Wells featuring installation art by Mensah Bey.


Thank you to Norfolk Public Schools for partnering with us in creating engaging in-school conversations discussing The Bluest Eye.



(VSC Producing Artistic Director) is the sixth Artistic Director and the first Producing Artistic Director in Virginia Stage Company’s 40 year history. At the Wells Tom has directed Pride and Prejudice and The Santaland Diaries, and can't wait to tackle Matilda at the end of this season. Previously as Artistic Director of Cape Fear Regional Theatre (CFRT), Tom produced over 35 plays and directed the World Premiere of Downrange: Voices from the Homefront, a play based on interviews with military spouses from Fort Bragg. Tom is an Associate Artist at PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill where he directed An Enemy of the People, Shipwrecked! An Entertainment, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, and The Little Prince. He also directed The Little Prince at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. As the founder of FreightTrain Shakespeare in Los Angeles, he earned a Dramalogue Award for his direction of Pericles. Other Los Angeles credits range from King Lear to The Devil With Boobs. A member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Tom is a graduate of Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT) with a B.A. in Theatre and Economics, and the University of California, San Diego MFA directing program, where he was the assistant director on the original production of The Who’s Tommy. Tom and his wife Wallis are the proud parents of Mireille Julia and Annika Christine.


(The Bluest Eye Director) is a 2017 Fox Fellowship recipient. She just completed a two year study of the multi-racial voice and code-switching on page, stage, and screen. She was a featured storyteller on NPR’s The Dinner Party. She was named, along with Lena Waithe, as one of "18 Black Women We Think Are Phenomenal" by Mater Mea Magazine and "Role Call: 6 Theatre Workers You Should Know" by American Theatre Magazine. She wrote for Probably Monsters, the video game company founded by the creators of Halo and Destiny. She performed her solo show, Joy Rebel, at Penumbra Theatre directed by Obie Award winner Lou Bellamy. In her solo and storytelling work she has partnered with The Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf, South Coast Rep, Chance Theater, The Mixed Remixed Festival, and many more. Her essays are published in A Mixtape of Words: Fiction and Nonfiction Stories About Music, Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low Flying Duck, and When Women Wrote Hollywood: Essays on the Wild - and Wildly Successful - Female Screenwriters Who Created Hollywood. She is the Associate Artistic Director of 2nd Story, a TCGYoung Leader of Color, and was a guest artist at the Citizen’s Theatre in Scotland. For stage she has directed Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel, Lydia Diamond’s adaption of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. As an actor, she was in the Tribeca Film Festival selection Chicago Boricua. She has her MFA in TV and Screenwriting through Stephens College, 2017. She hosts and produces the podcast How I Wrote That where she interviews the top women writing for tv and film. Some of the featured guests include Alexa Junge (Grace and Frankie & Friends), Allison Schroeder (Hidden Figures), Tanya Saracho (How to Get Away With Murder). The podcast can be found at

Barbara Hamm Lee

is the Executive Producer and Host of Another View, a weekly call in talk show that "discusses today's issues from an African American perspective. She has also held the position of Project Director for the National Federation of Community Broadcasters' African American Public Radio Stations Initiative, consulting with 26 African American public radio stations on compliance, governance, development, programming and community engagement. She has served as Creative Services Officer, Chief Communications Officer, Chief Public Affairs Officer and Chief Community Engagement Officer, all with WHRO Public Media.

Prior to her work with WHRO, Barbara held management positions with Communications Technologies, Inc.; Prince Georges County, Maryland Police Department and Hamm and Fox Communications. Most of Barbara's career has been spent in television management including News Director for WTKR-TV in Norfolk, VA; KYW-TV, Philadelphia; WJLA-TV, Washington, D.C.; Black Entertainment Television; WJZ-TV and WBAL-TV, Baltimore, Maryland.

Barbara is currently Chair of the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority; 2nd Vice Chair, YWCA, South Hampton Roads; Chair of the Norfolk Education Foundation Board of Directors; Chair of the Community Advisory Board for Dominion Virginia Power; and board member of The Planning Council, and Bennett College Alumnae Association.

Barbara has been recognized for her work in the community, including being named by the YWCA-SHR as a 2010 Woman of Distinction; a Woman of Courage, Confidence and Character Award from the Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast; the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities Humanitarian Award; the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award and the Volunteer of the Year Award, both from the Urban League of Hampton Roads.

A native of Baltimore, Maryland Barbara is married to Maxie Lee, has two daughters and a granddaughter, and loves to spend time with family and friends. She is a graduate of Bennett College (Summa Cum Laude), and attends First Baptist Church, Berkley.

You can reach Barbara at

Dr. Khadijah O. Miller

is a professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and chair of the HINTS department. She earned her PhD in African American Studies with a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies from Temple University, Philadelphia. Prior to joining the faculty at NSU, she served as director of the Women’s Studies program and Women’s Center and Rosemont College, Pennsylvania. She has taught classes in Women’s Studies, African American Studies, and Interdisciplinary Studies. She has served as the chair of the Interdisciplinary Studies program from 2007 -2014 and chair of the HINTS department, 2014-present. She is chair of the University’s Black History Month Committee and serves on a plethora of cross-campus committees that support student engagement and culturally-enriched programming. Her current research interests and projects include: the Black Lives Matter movement and Black professional women; minority health disparities/public health and the impact on Black women and Black womanist ethics. She is the happy mother of two daughters.

Neisha Himes

G.R.O.W. Foundation, Inc. (Girls Recognizing Our Worth), is a non-profit organization established August 25, 2016. Currently solely operated, Neisha Himes created G.R.O.W. to bring awareness to domestic violence and provide resources to those affected by this epidemic such as mentoring, shelter, food and clothing. G.R.O.W.will also teach girls and women of all ages to value their self worth by enriching their freedom of self expression and assisting with providing the tools necessary to meet personal goals. As survivor of domestic violence herself, Neisha first began telling her story 2 years ago by way of gift for Spoken Word poetry. Since then, her passion for advocacy has afforded her opportunities to speak at schools, shelters, conferences, etc., all the while meeting amazing people along this journey. #frompaintopurpose


is a Hampton Roads native with a passion for interpersonal violence prevention and education. Saige graduated from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science in Communications and Psychology in May 2015, and she is continuing her education through the Master of Public Administration program. Saige began her work in sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking during her undergraduate studies. Through her university, Saige has worked with programs and organizations such as M-Power, the Red Flag Campaign, Green Dot, Monarch Peer Activist Coalition Theatre, the Vagina Monologues, and the YWCA of South Hampton Roads. Saige also spearheaded Old Dominion University’s inaugural It’s On Us campaign and founded the annual Big Blue Take Back in 2014 to educate and empower students. Within the community, Saige has participated in numerous panels and events aimed and promoting awareness outside of the campus environment.

Through her work in interpersonal violence education and prevention, Saige has received local and national recognition. Saige was awarded Old Dominion University’s highest student honors: the Evon-Broderick Award and the Kaufman Award for leadership and service. Saige also served as a student representative on the Obama Administration’s Task Force to Protect Student from Sexual Assault, including acting as the only student panelist at the White House launch of the It’s on Us Campaign. Saige credits her biggest accomplishment as being invited to serve as a Public Delegate for the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Saige believes the key to ending the perpetuation of interpersonal violence is to shift the culture through education, challenging stereotypes, and reshaping attitudes, first starting with ourselves.

Made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts


Norfolk State University, The College of William and Mary - Sharpe Community Scholars, Old Dominion University, Norfolk Public Schools, New Calvary Baptist Church, Barbara Hamm Lee - Another View, Urban League of Hampton Roads - Marcus Scriven, Deltas, Urban League of Hampton Roads, NAACP - Norfolk and Virginia Beach, South Hampton Roads Bar Association, New Journal and Guide, Coast Live, Virginia Arts Festival, Seven Venues, VEER, TCG, Broadway World, Virginian-Pilot, WHRO, Kelli Webb, Marcus Scriven