On Sunday, July 13 from 3pm to 5pm, following the 2pm matinee performance of Rodney King, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company's Connectivity Department, in partnership with Dance Exchange (Washington, DC), will present "Stepping Toward Racial Equity": A House Lights Up Workshop Co-Presented with Dance Exchange.
I'll be joining members of the internationally acclaimed Washington, DC-based company Dance Exchange to co-facilitate Stepping toward Racial Equity, an engaging, thought-provoking, and participatory movement workshop aimed at exploring the powerful ways in which personal storytelling can serve as a tool for advancing racial equity in our communities. Immediately following the performance of Rodney King, participants will work together to create a new dance piece by using accessible art-making tools rooted in inquiry, generative dialogue, and movement. There will also be opportunities to collaborate with Dance Exchange on material that is currently being developed for Dallas Faces Race and Race Forward’s Facing Race Conference which will take place in Dallas, TX in November 2014. All audience members with a desire to move, create, and advance racial equity are welcome, regardless of background or experience.
Those who purchase tickets to the Sunday, July 13 matinee performance of Rodney King will also have the option to participate in the workshop for an additional $5.
Click here to purchase tickets to the Sunday, July 13 2pm performance of Rodney King.
Click here to purchase tickets to the Stepping Toward Racial Equity workshop.
About the Play
Woolly is thrilled to reunite with OBIE Award winning artist Roger Guenveur Smith after presenting his critically acclaimed A Huey P. Newton Story in 1996.
In Rodney King, Smith explores the legacy of another American icon, colliding history and improvised poetry to unravel the myth of “the first reality TV star.” From the initial glare of the national spotlight as the victim of police brutality, to the heroism thrust upon him that ignited the LA riots, to his lonely death at the bottom a swimming pool, Smith captures the story of a flawed, good-hearted everyman, and by extension reveals America’s endlessly complicated relationship with its racial past and present.
All tickets for Rodney King are $35 and can be purchased here.
"The importance of Roger's new piece about Rodney King is almost shocking in relation to the Trayvon Martin verdict and other recent cases that have continued to make black men and boys feel uniquely vulnerable in our society," says Woolly Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz. "Roger's performance this summer will extend an important conversation about race that has flowed through our current season (including Appropriate, We Are Proud to Present..., From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin: A Town Hall on Black Bodies and American Racism, and Facing our Truth: Ten Minute Plays on Trayvon, Race, and Privilege). His complex perspective on Rodney King's life explores a range of emotional responses and restores simple human dignity to a man who accidentally became a national symbol of racial persecution."
On this day, I'd like the American Theatre to embrace the principles of freedom, liberty, and independence, but also of revolution by knowing, truly knowing on a blood and bones level, that we can be better and must do better. We can program, hire, foster, and model the movement towards greater equity, inclusivity, and diversity.
I encourage theatres to remove the term "risk" when we talk about the plays we program, the people we hire, the artists we invite onto our stages, and the communities we strive to serve. It isn't risky to hire a woman or a man of color. No, it's important that we do so. It isn't risky to program a play by a woman or a man of color. No, it's exciting when we do so. It isn't risky to take an honest assessment of self, staff, leadership, and board; address conscious and unconscious bias against those different from you; and then work to eradicate anything less than the highest standard of inclusion. No, it's critical that we do so.
Yes, the work required to achieve diversity, inclusion, and equity is hard. But what about negotiating a better, more just, and equitable life on this planet isn't hard, necessary, and ultimately worth it? As a black woman playwright, I don't have as many privileges as many of those holding the highest positions of power and rank in our industry, but I have more than some others fighting hard to be seen and heard, and I believe in the American Theatre. I believe there is room for all of us. The only thing stopping us is fear. Let's not let fear be our tragic flaw.
From Seth Godin, Is Better Possible?
"Fear, once again fear, is the driving force here.
If you accept the results you've gotten before, if you hold on to them tightly, then you never have to face the fear of the void, of losing what you've got, of trading in your success for your failure.
And if you want to do this to yourself, well, I guess this is your choice.
But don't do it to others. Don't do it to your kids, or your students, or your co-workers. Don't do it to the people in underprivileged neighborhoods or entire countries. Better might be difficult, better might involve overcoming unfair barriers, but better is definitely possible. And the belief that it's possible is a gift.
We owe everyone around us not just the strongest foundation we can afford to offer, but also the optimism that they can reach a little higher. To write off people because you don't think getting better is comfortable enough is sad indeed."
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!