THE GENERATIONAL CYCLE

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Submitted by: Rising Voices 

Artist's Project Description: After the murder of George Floyd, the women of Rising Voices began to brainstorm on creating short plays or scenes that would speak to Mr. Floyd's murder and racial injustice in unexpected, inventive ways. We used a devised theater approach, and after experimenting with different narratives, settled on telling our story through several generations of women. We wanted to take a century-long perspective, as the march toward freedom and justice has been a complicated one where times of progress are mixed with losing ground. We set one vignette in the year 1920 and one in 1970. And, we placed one in the Third Ward section of Houston, where Mr. Floyd grew up, and the other in Fayetteville, NC, where he was born. One story involves the horror of lynching; the other, a young expectant mother about to have the supposedly joyful experience of an ultrasound. Finally, we wanted to connect these stories directly to the present protests, and so grew the character of Jabari who is our guide to the stories of 1920 and 1970 as she struggles to make a decision to participate in the protests despite the personal risks to her as a breast cancer survivor and a woman on her own. After writing the scripts and discussing the action, we recorded our work on Zoom, since we can't meet in person due to the pandemic. Rising Voices wishes to thank Stephanie Wilborn of ACT Theater who provided incredible support and expertise to our project, as well as Ashley Hicks and Breezy Leigh, two extremely talented students in the MFA program at ACT who acted alongside the Rising Voices women. We are grateful for ACT's partnership. Lynn Aylward is the Director of Rising Voices and Neely Upamaka is the Program Manager.

Artist's Bio: Rising Voices is a Bay Area (CA) theater program for young women who are or have been incarcerated or justice-involved. Rising Voices is run by Community Works West, a nonprofit in Oakland, CA that focuses on restorative justice. While the project is the output of the Rising Voices program as a whole, three members --Corina Aranda, Nicole Rangel and Robyn Stankey-- took a lead in conceiving, creating and acting in the project.