Live Goodman play to tour Chicago parks, with E. Faye Butler as activist Fannie Lou Hamer

Few things in life are as fun as getting E. Faye Butler talking about a character she is playing.

Actually, strike that. The venerable Chicago and East Coast star does not so much play characters as immerse herself in them.

She was that way with Mama Rose of “Gypsy” at Porchlight Music Theatre and the results were spectacular. Now she has turned her attention to Fannie Lou Hamer. And to see what she is doing with “Fannie Lou Hamer: Speak On It!,” you’ll have to catch the new mobile stage cruising the neighborhoods of Chicago with gas pumped by the Goodman Theatre.

And you’ll need to bring your lawn chair to a Chicago park for what will be, to the best of my knowledge, the first Actors’ Equity-sanctioned Chicago production since the pandemic closures of last March.

“Fannie is an unsung hero of the civil rights movement who got lost in the shuffle,” Butler said over the phone this week, as she unspooled Hamer’s biography a mile a minute. “We forget about the women who also fought in that battle. She had a sixth-grade education. But she had the power of magnitude that drew people to her and she made the movement the passion of her life. She would stand up and speak from the heart.”

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