What We're Reading: September 2019
As members of an organization that believes in the power of conversation to promote systemic change, the team here at The Lark often circulates, among ourselves, anecdotes and emails about materials we've read lately that have moved us. In accordance with our commitment to the amplification of necessary voices that reflect the world we live in, this monthly post compiles some of the media we have been tuned in to, to share with our wider community. We know these are only a sampling of all the insightful work out there, so if we missed anything that had an impact on you this month, we encourage you to share in the comments section!
"Though based on a Jacobean play from 1621, Jen Silverman’s dark comedy so intuitively illustrates how women are often seen and treated, regardless of time or place: scorned at large, silenced at best. Like Tierney at the top of the show, this work stares directly at the women in the audience, and it truly sees them. Which made what happened next so appalling."
An experience at the Geffen Playhouse, where a production of Jen Silverman's Witch, developed at The Lark, is currently playing.
"This is a mother’s film in which the normal rhythms of parenthood become disrupted... In the unreality of war, the domesticity startles: an ordinary cooking pot looks outlandish. But this is For Sama’s strength: the tender stuff of family life, often ignored in war reporting, is all there."
The story of Waad al-Kateab, a Syrian journalist and filmmaker, her life over the past decade, and what it means for storytellers to have control over their own narratives.
"Students’ role in the drama of the classroom is key to shaping and defining their position in American culture and the kind of work they produce within it. Have American actors ever been represented in textbooks as intellectuals, dissenters, or agents of change?"
One professor's ideas on how to decolonize the syllabus for her Introduction to Acting class.
Playwrights of Color, White Directors, and Exposing Racist Policy by Nicole Brewer
"Another issue that arises is when some artistic directors attempt to label a playwright of color’s text “universal” as a way to support their decision to hire a white director. The Black actor I spoke with, who’s worked on numerous plays written by people of color and staged by white directors, feels this excuse grants the director the authority to gloss over or ignore specifics of race and direct the piece in spite of their racial difference."
Nicole documents and analyzes her conversations with actors, playwrights, and audience members on the practice of hiring white directors to direct plays by writers of color, and how it has impacted their experiences.
"...improvisation is one of the most crucial elements in what we think of as black music: “The raising of individual creativity/expression to the highest place within the aesthetic world of a song.” Without improvisation, a listener is seduced into the composition of the song itself and not the distorting or deviating elements that noise creates. Particular to black American music is the architecture to create a means by which singers and musicians can be completely free, free in the only way that would have been possible on a plantation: through art, through music..."
A series of essays from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the start of American slavery, and centering the contributions of Black people to American culture. To dive even deeper, check out "The Daily" podcast series on the project, like '1619' Episode 3: The Birth of American Music.