Sandra Seaton is a playwright and librettist. Her plays have been performed in cities throughout the country, including New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and her libretto for the solo opera From the Diary of Sally Hemings, set to music by composer William Bolcom, has been performed at such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco and the Rialto Performing Arts Center in Atlanta. In a review of the solo opera’s premiere at the Library of Congress, Seaton’s text was praised by the Washington Post for its “subtle, penetrating power.” A CD of From The Diary of Sally Hemings, with Met soprano Alyson Cambridge and pianist Lydia Brown, is available from White Pine Music. The score has been published by Hal Leonard. Seaton’s one-woman drama Sally, in which an aged Sally Hemings recalls her life with Jefferson, premiered with acclaimed film and TV star Zabryna Guevara as Sally Hemings.
In 2019 Seaton received a commission from the Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative with composer Carlos Simon to create a libretto for an original work Night Trip about a young woman’s life-changing journey to the South to visit her relatives. On January 10,,2020, the opera premiered at the Kennedy Center. A review in the Washington Post singled out “Seaton’s candid, vernacular text” for “gradually revealing dramatic and poetic substance.”
Seaton’s other works include a spoken word piece, King: A Reflection on the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with spirituals sung by Metropolitan Opera tenor George Shirley and the song cycle Vegetarian Wedding with composer Erik Santos.
Among her twelve plays, The Bridge Party, Seaton’s first play, has been anthologized in Strange Fruit: Plays on Lynching by American Women. The play, set in Tennessee, portrays a group of black women whose weekly bridge game is interrupted by news of a lynching. Ruby Dee starred in a performance at the University of Michigan. Her play The Will, a drama about a black Tennessee family during Reconstruction, and her Civil Rights era play Music History, about African-American college students, have been performed widely and included in a number of college courses.
Seaton’s Chicago Trilogy, three one-act plays: A Chance Meeting, The Lookout, and Black for Dinner, based on short stories by the African American Chicago writer Cyrus Colter. Sandra Seaton, formerly a Professor of English at Central Michigan University, is a recipient of the Mark Twain Award “for distinguished contributions to Midwestern Literature” from the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature. She has been awarded residencies at Hedgebrook, Ragdale and Yaddo artists’ colonies and is a member of Black Theatre Network (BTN), Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) and Life Member of the Dramatists Guild.
Three Opera Reviews from the premiere performance by the Washington National Opera's American Opera Initiative for the chamber opera Night Trip, January 10, 2020, Terrace Theatre, Kennedy Center
Composer: Carlos Simon, Librettist: Sandra Seaton
Monday, January 13th in the Washington Post: https://wapo.st/38iAPA7
Monday, January 13th in A Beast in A Jungle: https://bit.ly/389uuHR
Saturday January 11th in the Washington Classical Review: https://bit.ly/2NyOmvQ