We did it again, and it was simply fabulous! This time we performed the staged reading of Eve Ensler’s “Anyone of Us: Voices from Prison” in The Black Box of the Relapse Theatre at 380 14th Street, N.W. in Atlanta, GA 30313. The day was sun-splashed perfection until the evening fell softly with the hypnotic melody of stormy rain. In this photo (graciously taken by Mr. Yemi Toure), cast members Nadirah and Brooklyn listen as I answer a question presented by the audience. I’d just finished dancing to Lydia’s monologue of a woman leaving prison, her hands reaching out to gently touch the air surrounding her like a shawl, the leaves floating in circles of reds, browns and oranges.
Lydia, hand slightly raised, answers a question from the audience while Noel and Darci give a listen.
Nadirah shares her knowledge in her characteristic regal manner.
Our lovely Angelique Burke was absolutely amazing in her premier role as director. Her leadership reflected her professional expertise and the ability to engage our stunning and diverse cast in activities and exercises that brought us closer together and made us more aware of how the prison industry impacts our lives.
Oooops! (Didn’t know how to delete pictures once I posted them here) A repeat picture and of course it would be of me talking, an activity that brings me great joy. I couldn’t help sharing with the audience whenever I could, for I firmly believe that we are one. Truly, any one of the monologues could have been anyone of the women in our cast or audience.
Our knowledgeable and caring audience were invaluable to our performance. Without them, we would not have been. They listened tentatively, their faces revealing the temperatures of their internal horizons, and presented us with supportive commentary and provocative questions at our reading’s end. When Angelique distributed slips of paper for their comments, one wrote: “The presentation puts you through so many emotions—rage, horror, disgust, anger, sorrow—that it’s hard to think as to the problem and solution that cries out from every story told. That “no one is listening,” that it could happen to you because it’s the circumstance not the “bad” people that is principal. This is mayhem on a grand scale. We must put the whole system responsible for this in its grave!”
Others offered the names of social change organizations (i.e. www.ColorsofChange.org) and one lady spoke of various interventions her agency practiced.
Director Burke opened the floor to discussion and provided the cast with an opportunity to respond to audience questions. In addition, she distributed a resource sheet of organizations and their contact names and numbers to the audience.
Women’s Prison Association
WPA is the nation’s oldest service and advocacy organization committed to helping women with criminal justice histories see new possibilities for themselves and their families.
A national organization dedicated to opposing the expansion of the prison industrial complex.
INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence
A national activist organization of radical feminists of color advancing a movement to end violence against women of color and our communities through direct action, critical dialogue, and grassroots organizing.
Men Stopping Violence
Baitul Salaam Network, Inc.
Help eliminate the climate of fear and ignorance that makes family violence possible
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
Specializes in the treatment of behavioral health and addictive disease disorders for adults and adolescents in 24/7 confidential assessments, partial, and in and out patient services.
Coaching, Consultation and Counseling Services
Angelique L. Burke
One gentleman in the audience came up to the stage after the reading and gifted me with a copy of the newspaper, REVOLUTION. The March 8, 2009 issue heralded the subject “A Declaration: For Women’s Liberation And The Emancipation of All Humanity.” Its articles speak poignantly of the thickly weaved fabric of oppression of women and girls around the globe.
Nadirah and Brooklyn heed an impassioned remark.
Director Burke enjoys her role and the exchange of thought and passion.
The cast of “Anyone of Us” on stage after the reading.
Participating in this production was truly a blessed experience. I am thankful Angelique remembered me and called me to join her and the other young women in our cast to bring the forgotten plight of imprisoned women to the forefront of our consciousness. Now that some of our imprisoned sisters’ stories are before us, let us rally behind them in the ways that we choose to keep the topic before as many people as possible. Let us dialogue with others to brainstorm what we can do, in our own little corners of the world, to make our society better, more peaceful for women and girls and all humanity.
Peace be onto you…