Happy February and happy Black History Month! We are continuing our research into The Federal Theatre Project, and this month discussed the Negro Theatre Unit's production of "Voodoo Macbeth". If you're unfamiliar, the Federal Theatre Project supported 17 "Negro Theatre Units" around the country to put Black performers back to work during the Great Depression. The Orson-Welles-directed production of Macbeth in 1936 was a sensation. Check out a short clip of the piece here.
Our Cold Readings are also still going strong. We recently finished enjoying our way through the Jeremy O. Harris-curated Golden Collection. This play collection aimed to put important plays by prominent Black writers into libraries and schools and homes across the country.
The Golden Collection includes:
With each play we explored, we also encouraged attendees to donate to The National Black Theatre, an organization dedicated to “theatre that enhances African American cultural identity by telling authentic, autonomous, multifaceted stories of the Black experience.”
However you celebrate Black history this month and every month, we hope you'll include the incredible theater by Black artists present and past.
Ps. The FTP Book Club is in Full Swing! Our Federal Theatre Project book club is about halfway through Susan Quinn’s Furious Improvisation and enjoying the great conversations our readings have inspired! Though we are coming to the end of this particular book, we have plenty of more readings and discussions planned for the rest of 2022. Want to get involved? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!
One year ago today, George Floyd was murdered. He is one of many Black people who have been brutalized as a result of a vicious white supremacist system. We commit to rooting out white supremacy in ourselves, in our theater, and in our communities. We assert unequivocally Black Lives Matter.
Katie here, with an attempt to gather up some favorite moments from 2020, following up on our lists of favorite books and music from the year.
I can think so clearly back to 365 days ago, when I was looking forward to all the things I thought 2020 was going to be, blissfully ignorant of all the things it would become. I had great plans: a few terrific trips, a 100+ person family reunion, school spring musicals I was ushering into existence.
It took many months, but I have let go of that alternative universe, and now live fully in the present. It has been a year of much smaller moments for me: a deep appreciation for the way the sunlight changes in my apartment; an extended visit with my sister in the summer; humbly expanding my participation in the march towards racial justice; a phone conversation on Election Day helping a woman in Michigan get to the polls; the sadness, memory, and catharsis that comes at a funeral; weekly gatherings to read and discuss plays and their themes.
This world is a mess. I take a bit of comfort in the knowledge that this world has always been a mess, and this year continued to expose more and more of that mess. But I truly believe 2020 can help us put the world back together again. Through the heartbreak and the chaos, we all have a few moments worth remembering: some big and profound, some small and delicate. Some fiery, some upsetting, some passionate, some subtle. Memories that become core to our sense of self, and memories that emerge without warning.
Take a look at some favorite 2020 memories crowd-sourced from the TIA community. I am so grateful to have gone through this year with all of you. I would have been lost without Theater in Asylum to keep me focused, committed, and processing. Thank you all for giving me—and each other—moments from 2020 that we’ll want to hold on to.
All my love,
Some of the TIA Community’s favorite moments from 2020
2020 has been… a lot. Crisis upon crisis has upended nearly everything, redirecting us and driving us to introspection along the way. Throughout the year, we’ve held gatherings online to process all that’s happening, as well as to explore and discuss wonderful plays. Each gathering also highlighted an organization doing good work amongst all the chaos. These organizations have their hands in the dirt and their eyes on a better world.
This Giving Tuesday, we ask you to consider supporting one (or more!) of the organizations we highlighted this year. Below, see a loosely-categorized list of heroes who are:
Thank you so much. Please take care of yourselves and each other.
Peace, power, and love to you,
Paul, Katie, Kathryn, and Hilarie
Making and Spreading Theater
Legal Support and Civic Engagement
Empowering People and Communities
Immigration and Asylum Support
Housing, Healthcare, and Education
Theater in Asylum (TIA) is a New York-based theater company founded in 2010 to challenge and empower our community. TIA joyfully pursues a rigorous research and an ensemble-driven approach to theater-making. We create performances to investigate our past, interpret our present, and imagine our future. We prize space to process, space to question—asylum—for ourselves and our community.