"From the Mississippi Delta"

Through Jan. 20 Arena Stage

Tickets: 202/488-3300

Although three actresses each portray Phelia, the heroine of "From the Mississippi Delta," at some point during the Arena Stage production, very little confusion results, says director Jonathan Wilson. "You're so focused on the story that you're not aware of what the actresses are doing." Cheryl Lynn Bruce (above left) is Woman No. 3 in Endesha Ida Mae Holland's autobiographical drama. "{Her} function is pretty much to play the two older women in town: the mother of Phelia/Endesha and Miss Rosebud Dupree," says Wilson. Woman No. 1, portrayed by Sybil Walker (center), "is Phelia, and she does a lot -- she tells the story in first person, and as we shift from scene to scene with her, we establish her as Phelia all the way through. Woman No. 2 {Jacqueline Williams, right} then functions pretty much as a narrator of a lot of the action regarding Phelia and her mother . . . but she plays a lot of both women and men of the community, even more so than the other two, although they do as well." Wilson prides himself on having had the cast pay equal attention to the numerous smaller characters, all of whom populate Greenwood, Miss., during the civil rights movement. "When I was having conferences with {Holland}, she said 'Jonathan, all of these people are important; even if they're just being referred to by name, they're all people from the Mississippi Delta.'"