From the Editor: Volume II. Jan-Feb 2012

By Donna Walker Kuhne

As we enter the New Year, the Lark Play Development Center is pleased to share Bulletin #2 with you as we continue to foster interest and community engagement in Marcus Gardley’s play, The Road Weeps,The Well Runs Dry. This blog provides a forum for the four participating theaters, The Latino Theater Center, Perseverance Theater, Pillsbury Theater, and University of South Florida to unpack themes of migration, identity and education in their respective communities as part of the production of the play. Storytellers report on the development of the play and the dialogue that surrounds the issues emanating from the play. Each city offers a unique perspective based on local culture and geography. These discussions are presented through video and photos and include an interview with Marcus Gardley.

Last November, I was able to participate in a Convening with one of our consortium theaters at The Pillsbury House in Minneapolis. At this gathering, the discussion focused on the Native American perspective. Once again, hearing Marcus read excerpts from the play in his multitude of voices struck a deep chord. The topic of migration was discussed extensively with representatives from the African American and Native American theater communities and members of academia. As we discussed the term ‘migration’, it was referred to as change, movement and conflict within the community.

As we experience these courageous dialogues occurring in our partner cities, it becomes increasingly clear the impact the play has in educating audiences about the historical relationships between African Americans and Seminoles (and to a larger extent all Native Americans) for the many people who want to learn and understand these relationships. It is noteworthy that The Lark inherently values creating environments where meaningful dialogues that can shape opinions and create new ones are held. The Road Weeps brings two populations together who may not normally talk to each other, to examine a history once shared two hundred years ago and explore its ramifications in 2012 and beyond.

The Road Weeps Bulletin continues with reports from the field. Perseverance Theatre in Alaska is preparing for their upcoming Town Hall in March and Storyteller Joanne Alcantara shares an interview with the creative team. Their decision to include The Road Weeps as part of a trilogy of plays by African American writers is a wonderful opportunity that provides an in depth multifaceted perspective on the life and culture of the African American community.

There is excitement at the Latino Theater Company in Los Angeles as they prepare for and invite you to the January 26th staged reading. As reported previously, we were there for the Town Hall in October and the vibrant discussion indicated interest from many sectors of the community including Latino, Native and African American theaters and museums.

At The University of South Florida, there is a unique commitment to engage students and faculty in all aspects of exploring the issues presented in the play, the reading and full production.

Marcus reminded us “that plays are living things and they need room to grow”. That’s what the Road Weeps community engagement activities are doing. Follow us for a report on our Town Hall in Tampa on the University of South Florida’s campus and again in March, when we head to Alaska. Both cities surely will provide completely unique experiences as we engage local indigenous communities in this continuing journey.

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