"RE-WRITING THE DECLARATION"
Catalyzed by the current organizing energy of our country, while reading the Declaration of Independence I realized that America’s founding documents were never intended to include many of the people who call this country home today. The justice system doesn’t protect black and brown people for many reasons, one of which is because it wasn’t designed to. Because of these and other shortfalls, I wanted to rewrite the Declaration as an artistic, performative, and participatory rendering of a new and more inclusive Declaration. Re-Writing the Declaration is a participatory, theatrical experience that invites audience members to engage with the performance in some way that asks them to respond to injustices that are perpetuated, and even defended, by our country’s founding documents. The development of the play is also participatory, and includes and centers community voices and input.
Re-Writing the Declaration is a devised, participatory play inviting audiences to center Black women, and femmes, non-binary, and trans folx of color, in order to free us all.
Re-Writing the Declaration Fall 2020
What happens when a class of young Black women and non-binary folx of color take a trip to 1776?
From October 30 - November 9, Re-Writing the Declaration ran as a live Zoom theatre piece, made possible by the Program in Educational Theatre at NYU Steinhardt, Free Street Theater, and the Speranza Foundation..
Learn more about and view the production here.
"RE-WRITING THE DECLARATION" AT THE SANTA FE ART INSTITUTE
“The Image of Independence”, was written and performed as part of my residency in November of 2017 at the Santa Fe Art Institute. The Institute conducts an event three times a year in which presentations can last no longer than 140 seconds. I utilized the opportunity to write and perform my first text related to my play and project in process. While attempting to re-write the declaration, and wearing the colonial image, the character finds that the words, and the image, are not quite right. Her “revisions” are taken from actual citizens’ re-writings from workshops that I’ve led this year. She gets frustrated and stops performing, doffing her colonial wig to reveal her natural hair; her black body and afro an unaccustomed sight to this fit. When developing this piece, I knew that I needed it, even in 140 seconds, to achieve two things: have a moment of audience participation, and relate our founding fathers to black women’s hair. I received much positive feedback, reassuring me that there may be something to setting this play against the backdrop of a black beauty shop, in having it be interactive in unexpected ways, and utilizing women of color to tell, and lead the re-writing, of this story.