PUTNEY -- In honor of Black History Month, Next Stage Arts Project presents a staged reading of the critically-acclaimed one-man play, "Pierce to the Soul," on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Next Stage is at 15 Kimball Hill. Tickets are $10 suggested donation, available at the door.

"Pierce to the Soul" tells the story of Elijah Pierce, a barber, preacher and a folk artist of no small significance. Playwright Chiquita Mullins Lee will perform the piece at Next Stage. Says Mullins Lee, "What I wanted to capture about Pierce, the son of a former Mississippi slave who migrated north and settled in Columbus, though, was his ‘wholeness as a person.’"

"Pierce to the Soul" premiered at the Contemporary American Theatre Company in 2010, garnering praise as "Entertaining and engaging" by Columbus Alive. The play focuses on Elijah Pierce’s roots as an artist and the challenges he faced in the decades before he became famous. The 1892-born son of a former Mississippi slave didn’t become nationally known until the early 1970s, when Boris Gruenwald, an Ohio State University graduate student and sculptor, discovered his art and began championing it.

These days, more than 300 Pierce woodcarvings are contained in the collection of the Columbus Museum of Art -- and his work is shown in exhibits worldwide.

Playwright and performer Chiquita Mullins Lee is a writer and performer living in Columbus, Ohio. Her plays have been presented as part of Contemporary American Theatre Company’s Shorts Festival 2000 and 2004.

For more information, contact Maria Basescu, Executive Director, at 802-387-0102 or nextstagearts@gmail.com.