by Contributing Writer Cheryl Howard
It is with profound sorrow that the family here at Sacculturalhub.com bring you this message on the passing of Lisa Tarrer Lacy (July 29, 1955 – July 22, 2020). The visitation (viewing) will be open to the public on Thursday, August 13, 2020 between the hours of 12 noon – 7 pm at Morgan & Jones Funeral Home, 4200 Broadway, Sacramento, California 95817. The Memorial Service and the Internment, with regret, will be closed to the public. Ms. Lacy will be laid to rest at Camellia Memorial Gardens 10221 Jackson Rd. Sacramento, CA. 95827. The Celebration of Life Tribute Magazine for Remembering the Legacy of Lisa Tarrer Lacy is available online at: https://bit.ly/3kLcURg
Lisa Lacy was born in Chicago, Illinois to parents Johnny B. Tarrer and Mary Grant Tarrer. As a young child she would attend stage plays with her mom and her cousin Denise Parker Smith. It was said that she was bitten by the theater bug during that time. Her love for the theater would grow into a lifetime of the performing arts. In 1967, along with several members of her family, she relocated to Sacramento, CA. Lisa was just entering Junior High when a first indication of how much of an innovator in her was realized. Along with her childhood friend Voress, she led a “sit-in” demanding that girls be allowed to wear pants on cold days. That stance got the attention of the principal and she won that privilege for every girl to follow after her.
Lisa was an amazing beacon of light in the city of Sacramento. Her ongoing love for the theater became more apparent as she trained professionally in New York City at the Richard Allen Center for Cultural Arts (RACCA), HB Studio, JoJo Dance Factory, and the Dance Theater of Harlem. She added to her academics a Bachelor of Arts and master’s degree from CSU Sacramento. Lisa was a veteran actress with the CSU Sacramento theater company, Sons and Ancestors Players.
Lisa’s first love in the theater was acting. Before long, her gifts made room for her to try her hand at writing and directing. For the next two decades she will have acted, written and directed in over 40 plays with performances in major cities like New York, Oakland, San Francisco, and Sacramento. She was a proud member of the Actors Equity Association, a professional union for Actors. Among her many accomplishments, in 2005, Lisa received the Cornel West Distinguished Alumni Award and in 2009 Lisa earned an Elly Award for best original script of the year, for her play, “Solomon’s Storefront.”
In 2003 she had a chance encounter with musician Charles “Charlie” Cooper. Lisa and Charlie became fast friends, “brother and sister from different parents,” as Charlie put it. They formed a masterful partnership. The two combined their talents and went on a tour of venues to produce the most visually appealing and musically compelling stage plays. In 2005, they started their own company, IMAGES THEATRE COMPANY. Lisa was the Executive and Artistic Director for Images Theatre Company. Lisa challenged the stage as she presented all areas of artistic expression in dance, in voice and in drama. She had mastered all aspects of the performing arts. Her strong directing skills brought to life the vision she had for every person to grace her stage.
As a playwright her voice was heard as well as the voice of the people of her own community. Although her company and audience were diverse and all inclusive, it was still important to her and her partner to have their voices be heard and to be able to tell their story without compromise. Charlie said, “We must shape our own narrative and change the narrative that is out there.” According to Charlie, Lisa created an atmosphere of integrity, and an atmosphere where they were not just a company of thespians and backstage support, but a close-knit family. He also added that Images’ “true mission is to empower, enlighten and educate people through the Black arts.”
The team of Lacy and Cooper, in each of their productions, were able to capture the essence of African Americans, past and present, the defeats and triumphs. Their stage play, “We Come from Greatness” epitomized just that. There was a scene that had the 4 little church girls and there was the song, “If I Were Allowed to Live.” The tragic beauty of that song and that scene reflected only one of the powerful messages found in a Lisa Tarrer Lacy original.
The legacy of Lisa Tarrer Lacy will live in the hearts and minds of all who were touched by the arts in which she created on and off the stage. In honor of her memory, in an effort to continue her legacy and to keep Black arts alive, “In lieu of flowers or other monetary expressions,” please donate to Images Theatre Company at: https://www.imagestheatre.org (see “donate” at the bottom of the homepage).
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Cheryl Denice Howard is a freelance writer and in her short career has successfully written three stageplays, was editor and creator of three community newsletters, and while in college had more than 30 articles published. Her favorite genre of writing is Opinion. She won an award for opinion writing, and it was well deserved. She is currently working on her first screenplay while pursuing a Bachelor degree in Journalism with a Minor in Creative Writing.