to all youth followers of WE, check out this National Park Service competition looking for creative expressions of freedom.
From our friends from the Prison University Project, based at San Quentin.
Below is the link to a wonderful TED Talk by Damon Horowitz, PUP volunteer, about teaching philosophy at San Quentin. It’s just under 4 minutes long:
Prison University Project
Patten University at San Quentin, Director
Post Office Box 492
San Quentin, California 94964
We Players is proud to announce our final exhibit in the 2011 Alcatraz series, Images from the Inside, which is the most comprehensive gathering of inmate-produced visual artwork in the Bay Area in 30 years.
August 27th “Images from the Inside”Opening Event 1-4pm on Alcatraz
Meet at Pier 33 by 12:50 to claim your place.
This event is free. Reservations are required. Suggested donation, $20-30.
Well, I’m just back from a 2200 nautical mile passage – through the Panama Canal and up the Pacific coast to Cabo San Lucas in Baja.
While at sea, I read several versions of the Odyssey on the foredeck of sailing vessel Kailani.
I love the ancient roots of this material, the epic scope and universal story of the Heroes journey. In some way, each day we go through a version of this journey – we rise to greet the challenges and unexpected adventures of the day, we return ‘home’ – the same person and yet in some way changed, renewed or transformed – even if only a subtle shift, we learn or forget something each day.
We’re beginning the process slowly, steadily, gradually – with a book club of just a few actors to read to each other and discuss the text. And to explore how the stories of the Odyssey relate to our own experiences. Gradually developing an understanding of the Hero and perhaps coming to personal definitions quite different from the concept of the ancient hero, who goes to battle for the spoils of war and for the “glory” and “honor” of it. My conception of a hero is something much more quiet – something like my father, sensitive and smart, patient and steady, deep in himself and knows how to savor the small things.
At sea, I savor the details of the environment. The play of sunlight and moonlight on the surface of the ocean. Infinitely various patterns of light. Flecks of green phosphorescence spraying and fizzling in our wake. The big dipper perfectly vertical off the starboard bow, dipping straight into the bowl of the ocean for a great scoop of liquid night.
Source work in the wine-dark sea…
While We Players rehearsed Hamlet lines beat by beat over the demanding Alcatraz terrain, new and returning artists at the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department spent Summer 2010 building giant puppets and banners that address Hamlet’s themes – including isolation, redemption, and loss. Over the course of Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet finds himself more and more alone within a court of panderers, backstabbers, adulterers, and murderers. He struggles with the moral question of how to avenge his father’s death, increasingly aware of the cycle of violence and limitations of reason. He becomes morose, and in the process loses not only his father, but his mother, a sense of family, his love, and ultimately his own life.
These same themes of loss, isolation, and redemption are felt keenly by the 260,000 people incarcerated in California jails and prisons, and the over 446,000 California residents on probation, parole, or supervision. Setting the trend for the nation, incarceration has become an epidemic in California.
The artists who designed the work here are all on probation, parole, or supervision and a few have served time at San Quentin State Prison, directly across the Bay. They have experienced the loss of friends, family, childhood, social standing or a sense of self to violence, drugs, AIDS, and incarceration.
For those who repeatedly showed up to make artwork, several times a week for over twelve weeks, the manipulation of raw material into identifiable images of salvation and remembrance (ghosts, fists raised in the air, and crosses, among other things) was a critical step in their ongoing process of redemption and self-forgiveness. Their lived experience of these themes, as well as their commitment to the art of personal expression, informed We Players’ generative process.
Puppeteers: Franky Alfaro, John F. Earle, James L. Ellis II, Michael Goodwin, LeRoy Hoggis, Alma Johnson, Allen, Alex, Alberto (Cuba), Mike, Oliver and Richard.
Banner artists: Lejhaun Bowden, Daniel Chesnutt, Darinell Collier, Rashawna Dixon, Mariana Duran, Lacresha Foster, Celina Gallardo, Trina Glover, Vinh Hoang, Pamela Watson, Shaun Webb, Keith Williams, Marcella M. Wiltz, Cornell, and Semaj (Doh).
I use video, puppets, sound, and movement to address disremembered histories. My history-telling performances are an extension of my investment in transformative performance traditions, my commitment to disidentificatory countermemory, and my penchant for retelling trauma as fantasy. I uncover the buried histories of space and identity formation to tell new stories of self-actualization. Working within thematic discourses of diaspora, memory, melancholia, and desire, my practice narrativizes those invisible and unwritten moments where hybrid identities and collective knowledges meet.