Read our story to learn how we managed to touch so many lives
In 2012 a study found that every 28 hours a black person was extrajudicially killed by vigilante, security guard, or the police in the United States. This statistic was immediately contested and the country is still embroiled with addressing a problem it struggles to acknowledge. Inspired by the conversation we needed to have this project was developed. Currently produced by Claudia Alick and CALLING UP, The Every 28 Hours Plays project was originally developed with The Oregon Shakespeare Festival and The One-Minute Play Festival with over one-hundred artistic collaborators across the country. Collaborators include Tony award-winning artists, activists, family members directly affected by police violence, politicians, cultural organizers, and law enforcement. The project consists of over seventy short plays that reflect the current civil rights movement, and tools to help your community address these issues, grow empathy, and become healthier. We offer the plays on a Pay What You Can model as part of our philosophy of radical generosity. Read below to find out thousands of lives touched in collaboration with arts organizations, colleges and universities, and businesses.
The Ferguson Moment
In August of 2014, Claudia Alick created a project called The Ferguson Moment in collaboration with artists from The Oregon Shakespeare Festival Mica Cole and Sharifa Johka, and artists from across the U.S., and St. Louis such as Megan Sandberg-Zakian, Tlaloc Rivas, Jacqueline Lawton, The Theater Communications Group, Katy Rubin, Danny Bryck, Rebecca Martinez, Jacqueline Thompson and Don McClendon, Shanara Gabrielle, Chris Hanson, Andrea Parnell, Ron Himes and others. As news of Michael Brown’s death came forward, we connected with theatre artists in Ferguson and across the nation.
We came together to spark and organize a national artistic response to the oppression, violence, and resistance happening in Ferguson, MO and its relationship to all of our communities and United States history. The project took place over three days where we witnessed, served, and collaborated in artistic exchange. This open source project built the bridges for each of us to continue artistic exploration in our own organizations
Click here to learn about the Ferguson Moment
A National Collaboration
Claudia Alick decided to continue the work of The Ferguson Moment with a national multi-perspective approach. She worked with The Oregon Shakespeare Festival and reached out to short form theater maker Dominic D’Andrea and The One‐Minute Play Festival (1MPF), and Jacqueline Thompson in St. Louis to continue. The Every 28 Hours Plays were created with the goal of capturing the history in the making of our current Civil Rights Movement and giving us something to respond with.
The title of the project is inspired by the contested nature of the statistic that every twenty-eight hours a black person is killed by security guard, vigilante, or police by extrajudicial violence. When the Malcolm Grass Roots Movement released their report, the claim went viral, inspiring denial and questions about their methodology. For us this raised the larger question: every 28 hours, every 48, every 98, how many hours would it take for this not to be a national issue of vital importance? #BlackLivesMatter was created in 2012 after Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted for his crime, and dead 17 year old Trayvon was posthumously placed on trial for his own murder. We use #Every28Hours because as a nation #BlackLivesMatter is still being treated as a question.
The Every 28 Hours Plays centers marginalized communities with an intersectional lens. The plays have been produced in collaboration with and reflect experience of black, latino, indigenous, LGTBQ, undocumented, and community.
While all theater is a political act, we have always been very clear that this piece of theater was created without a singular viewpoint. Our curatorial process was open, and we asked our playwrights to reflect on the civil rights movement that is happening today and the events that inspire the Black Lives Matter movement. The process has included dialogue with both law enforcement and activists, and it continues to. Theater, culture workers, and law enforcement are designed to serve the community in their own unique ways. Theater offers a space to explore our differences, find our commonalities, and practice empathy.
The Every 28 Hours Plays will trigger some of our most polarized community members into having a reaction before the plays are even produced. Triggered reactions in writing from donors, board, or community indicate a passionate base that can and should be engaged with. We have found that transforming these knee-jerk reactions into dialoguehas strengthened individuals’ connections to our organization. Providing context for the event and partneringwith non-arts community organizations, with the aim of allowing multiple perspectives to be voiced and heard, is key to the start of a productive community dialogue around these themes. We have craftied relationships and materials to help organizations navigate the complicated territory of race, representation, and justice. Please reach out to us if you feel you need support in these areas. To produce a play like Richard III is not to promote murder or hatred or divisiveness, it is simply producing theater inspired by history that allows us to reflect on experiences that are not our own. This piece aims to successfully capture history in the making.
Claudia Alick worked with Dominic D’Andrea to create the form that resulted in the final collection. 1MPF is social barometer project, which investigates the zeitgeist of different communities through dialogue, consensus building, and a performance of 50-100 short moments generated by each community. The work attempts to reflect the theatrical landscape of local artistic communities by creating a dialogue between the collective conscious and the individual voice. The Every 28 Hours Plays took inspiration from this form and also expanded it to include more writers and work with more communities. During Phase One, theatres and playwrights around the country connected to craft a selection of one minute plays around the current civil rights movement, and/or committed to send artists to St. Louis to develop the work on the ground.
Click here to learn more about Phase One of project
During Phase Two, guest artists traveled to St. Louis to engaged in a week of artistic exchange with St. Louis-based artists. All attended a lecture in UMSL Touhill Theatre by Dr. Terry Jones on race relations, and the history of St. Louis that led to the events in Ferguson; met with Duane Fosters’ students at Normandy High School (Michael Brown’s school); toured Ferguson with artist/activist Marty Casey; and facilitated a conversation with activists, artivists, and a police officer at The Urban League. All of this rich community engagement and artistic exploration seeded a environment to write more original plays on-site that were then integrated with the at-large collection. The entire collection of plays was then presented as staged readings in St. Louis at the Kranzberg Arts Center, and in Ferguson at the Dellwood Recreation Center, on October 23, 2015.
Click here to learn about Phase Two of the project
This phase included productions all over the country leading to a month of concentrated action. Our National Advisory Board included Rebecca Struch, Derek Kolluri, Jess Carr, Rebecca Martinez, Patricia Mitchell, Joe Wilson, Jr., Ron Himes, Joan Lipkin and task force members Rebecca Martinez, Lily Junker, Gregory Carr, Kyle Haden, Nikki Hyde, Jerome Parker, and Matt Belanger.
Theaters such as Trinity Repertory Theatre in Rhode Island, American Conservatory Theater, The Kennedy Center, Capturing Fire Queer Poets Summit in Washington DC, The TCG National Conference, McCarter Theater with Princeton university, Howard University, The Aquarium in Kansas City, Watts Village Theater Company in LA , The Langston Hughes Center in Seattle and others engaged with the plays in 2016-1017 creating dynamic action and change in their communities.
“The activist community in Rhode Island has been present and vocal in the face of the national #blacklivesmatter movement,” said Trinity Rep’s Community Engagement Coordinator Rebecca Noon. “We need to open the city’s public spaces to engage in this big conversation. ‘Every 28 Hours’ promises to be one of those nights where art connects people around a life-and-death matter.” (Providence Journal)
Click here to learn about Phase Three of the project