From the Editor: Volume X. Dec-Feb 2014

by Donna Walker-Kuhne

A new model of community engagement: the road weeps…the well runs dry continues to impact communities throughout the country.

It is quite an accomplishment to develop a sustainable initiative that engages audiences and community framing a play especially after the production has concluded its run.  But in fact the Consortium Partners of the road weeps have done just that.

The road weeps…the well runs dry enters 2014 preparing for the final production of the Consortium’s presentations. The creative team of the University of South Florida is quite busy engaging students, community and rehearsing. For a year now, Professor Fanni Green has been busy cultivating potential audiences and identifying cast members from her student population. Her article brings us even closer to the performances.

The most recent production was held in Los Angeles in the fall at LATC. Our Storyteller, Fanny Garcia highlights one of the main characters M. Gene and the actor who portrayed her, Nakia Secrest. As you will learn from the article, Nakia and M. Gene share similar strengths so it is no coincidence that she embraced this role which was very important to her. Preparing for the role allowed her to deepen her understanding of survival, history and unity.

We are treated to a unique interview with playwright Marcus Gardley and Storyteller, Shannon Gibney from Pillsbury House. Marcus enthusiastically endorses the idea of a ‘rolling premiere’ and shares what he learned watching and supporting his play in three different venues. He discusses the uniqueness of each city and how it informed the production and his understanding of the play. Marcus also discusses the value of community engagement encouraging other theaters to incorporate this initiative in their productions.

The play was first performed in Alaska almost two years ago. Perseverance Theater has been successful in continuing the thread of conversation fostering diversity, inclusion and history agreed to by the Consortium (four producing venues). The staff, board and community have deepened their exploration of and efforts to build a culture of diversity. The energy from preparing for the production, during and post production have galvanized the community to examine how they can deepen their ideas of inclusion and social justice and to bravely dialogue and activate a plan to implement this vision.  It demonstrates the impact of the play with the collaborations that The Lark envisioned for the Consortium.

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