1967. America is in conflict; segregation is pitted against a burgeoning civil rights movement, capitalist ideals square off to the communist threat, and a war in Vietnam continues. Amidst the turmoil of a nation, a young woman searches for answers about race, gender, politics and her own identity.

This is a jazz-theatrical collaboration inspired by the extraordinary life story of Philippa Duke Schuyler, a prodigal, mixed-race concert-pianist, composer, and journalist – born in 1931 as an experiment in miscengenation into a sizzling, jazz-age Harlem. The first mixed-race star to grace the cover of TIME magazine, Philippa performed for queens and presidents but with her sudden passing, her story was lost.

This extraordinary adventure unravels the truths about Philippa’s life. Fuelled by her own words, a sound track of hedonistic live jazz and vivid video design this compelling new production is conceived and directed by award-winning multidisciplinary director Pia Furtado with music by the late, great, Abram Wilson.

We plan to see this jazz-theatre project through to a fully staged production, bringing Philippa's extraordinary story and Abram's music to life, whilst providing career development opportunities for talented young jazz musicians.


Pia Furtado is a multidisciplinary director who works across a range of theatrical disciplines specialising in new work, Shakespeare, verse, dramaturgy and forms that involve music. She has received critical acclaim for a range of productions including Dirty Great Love Story which was the winner of a Fringe First Award in 2012; Werther, Scottish Opera, 2013; and L’Elisir D’Amore, Holland Park Opera, 2013.


In December 2014 we embarked on two weeks of research and development workshops supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation and the PRS for Music Foundation. We culminated the two-week process of workshops with our core creative team with a sharing of work to an invited audience.

“I was so impressed by how much ground you was really fascinating and so interesting to see how you’re finding your way around the story. Pia described that process brilliantly and really helped to unpack for the audience how that development works and what kinds of things you think about.” - Shonagh Manson, Director, Jerwood Charitable Foundation

Photo credit: Remy Archer




Abram Wilson Foundation for Creative Arts gratefully acknowledges support from PRS for Music Foundation.