The Lark Play Development Center continues to examine how The Road Weeps… The Well Runs Dry influences and inspires dialogue around the U.S. Last month, the Lark creative team had the opportunity to attend a series of events that included a reading of the play at the University of South Florida, one of the Consortium partners. It was exciting to see the play framed in an academic environment with theater students. Professor Fannie Green provided a platform for the students to be fully engaged in the reading. The eagerness in which they attacked the roles was refreshing and inspiring. Professor Green nurtured their understanding of the material along with sharing cultural nuances of the multicultural characters to deepen their understanding. Before and after the reading there was dialogue with the students and faculty touching upon issues including the power of dialogue, the Bible and the fear of nature and how those lines are blurred. The idea of history and whose story is being told created a lively discussion that enabled me to think about the value and importance of sharing stories.
You will see in the University of South Florida’s Storyteller Matt Cowley’s article that the cross cultural, color blind casting lent a different kind of experience in hearing the reading of the play. Interesting questions were explored such as how when examining history, one challenge is whose truth is true?
This point is excellently explored in the extended article by Pillsbury House Storyteller Shannon Gibney. In the Road Weeps Bulletin #2, Shannon reported on the Town Hall meeting held in Minneapolis last November. I also commented in that bulletin that there is a need for African Americans and Native Americans to foster a deeper understanding of shared history, identity and culture. Shannon has thought deeply about this exchange and wrote a stimulating article which we felt was valuable to this discussion and important to include in its entirety. It raises significant questions that are the focus of playwright Marcus and The LARK are interested in – fostering a discussion on the topics of history, migration and identity.
The Latino Theater Company reports on the January staged reading of the Road Weeps as well as the announcement of a new director for the play, Charlotte Brathwaite. This venue is the first to host a full production in the fall and so their focus on community engagement is important and immediate.
We are also preparing for the last of the Town Hall experiences with Perseverance Theater in Juneau, Alaska this month. This city with its own unique character informed by geography and cultural history creates an unprecedented frame for this play and the exploration of the issues its presents. The Road Weeps is part of a series they are presenting which includes A Raisin in the Sun and Defenders of Alaska Native Country by local playwright, Ishmael Hope. This provides a context that can only enhance the experience and engagement of the community.
Thanks to all of our Consortium partners for continuing this journey. Thanks to our Storytellers for sharing your observations and recording the evolution of this play and community engagement. Thanks to you our readers. Each article has posed questions for you to ponder or opportunities to share comments. We encourage, nudge and hope that you will respond so that the multi layered dialogue continues in micro, and macro hotspots online and in your community.