Wow! We enjoyed a powerful kick off to We Players’ adult education programming the past two days. Many thanks to John Hadden for sharing his decades of experience, his subtle awareness, and his deft teaching.
I’m creating this post so workshop participants and observers can share some of the nuggets they are taking away to incorporate into future performances and life!
The image that sticks strongest for me is the existence of language throughout our bodies, in our blood and marrow… the wellspring of emotions and impulses deep in our core, from which the swell of language courses forth… and the mouth, teeth, tongue and lips as percussive instruments that articulate the energy into intelligible speech. “Let the thought exist in your mouth,” not your head.
Also love thinking about the character as a map -
totally useful when traveling to a new place, but each actor/ traveller will have a different journey, and the journey doesn’t begin until you step into unfamiliar territory and set forth towards the place.
thanks again, John!
Please support a new project by one of We Player’s collaborating artists on Alcatraz, Evan Bissell. He has a $10,000 matching grant opportunity from the East Bay Community Foundation, which ends 7/16. I’ve seen some of the sketch versions of this project, and believe me, it’s an awesome tool for history telling.
LEARN MORE AND DONATE NOW.
going through the JJC students’ letters to ancestors with a fine tooth comb… I find gems that sparkle with hope, yet even more dark rocks of truth, crumbling from our current realities.
Selections will be printed and all original letters will be presented in We Players third exhibition on Alcatraz, opening June 11th.
If you’d like to be involved with our July 23rd Youth Conference, please contact Lauren.
Would you rather live in my time or your time if you had a choice?
How did you guys survive through wars, riots, crises and depressions? I am only 16 and I’ve been through a lot. I have a daughter and I’ve been shot. The one think that keeps me motivated is my mother.
In the times that we are living in now it is worse than everything you went through. Young black people are dying everyday. We come from a community where there is no unity. I would rather walk in the shoes you walked in to replace all the tragic memories I suffer from seeing all my family and close friends die.
Being whipped by a Caucasian slave master wouldn’t hurt me as much as being shot by a brother of the same age and same color.
So many people are very heartless where I come from. I wonder if it was the same when you were growing up.
I know you worked hard in your days because my family works hard now.
How many kids did you have or did you have kids? What did they get in trouble for and what were the consequences? Because I got beat with a belt.
There is so much technology in our society today that people believe it will destroy the human population and the world will soon come to an end. Our nation has been at war for so long that I believe there is truth to some of it.
Life in here is nothing compared to real jail, so I’m fortunate. But there is nothing funny about not having your freedom and getting told what to do.
I was doing good, following all the rules. I had some rough times, but I always managed to pull it together. Then I made one mistake by going to a place I had no business going to. Now that place has me wearing a green sweater and khaki pants again, county underwear, socks that millions of people had on. Who am I really? Why was I put on this earth to go through this struggle?
Most of the family are living in housing projects and struggling to find a job. Most of the young ones in the family are getting caught up with the law. How do we stop this and move on to a better life?
I’m not in the best position today because I’m incarcerated. But I won’t let our family’s hardwork be in vain.
I’ll see you in maybe 30 years.
Ancestor, you would be mad at us because of the way we act. And the way we’re killing our own people. We’re going to jail and you fought for us to be free. You fought for us to get an education. Now people our age don’t go to school. We don’t do anything our ancestors fought for.
A lot of people have lost that family unity. People don’t respect their elders.
I’m not going to do anything but be dead or in jail. At least that’s what the judge says. But when I get to this group home I’m going to prove her wrong.
The system is not cool. Once you’re in they don’t want to let you out and they are always trying to send me off, so I guess they don’t want to see me do anything good with myself.
My grandfather told me, “time waits for no man, man just wasts time or uses it best as he can. Life goes on without a meaning or a purpose, but if you life it, then when the time comes to die, you’ll know that it was worth it.”
Even though we have freedom and rights, we are still going through hard times. I feel that we aren’t really free. And it drives me crazy.
Here in America there are barely any African Americans who know their native background. Everything here is usually technology-based, cutting out traditional things like cooking, reading, hunting, etc. Our people are sometimes discriminated against due to stereotypes and certain people who have done stupid things in the past. Today they have systems that can take away your freedom and rights no matter what age you are. I am currently in Juvenile Hall, which means I have no freedom or rights.
Today there are more youth dying because of what neighborhood they stay in, or because of the people they know. Today there are a lot more gangs because teenagers don’t have anyone to look up to.
First off, I would like to apologize for disgracing your family name. I realize that I am the first and only person in our bloodline that has been incarcerated, but I vow to make it up to you and make you proud of me.
The world is a mess right now. Maybe it always was? Maybe it’s just more obvious now?
I remember I used to love.
I’m not that person anymore.
Reality has changed me.
People think that my life is going good, but it’s not. People nowadays judge you for all you got, how you look, and what you wear.
Thank you Evan Bissell for leading a wonderful workshop on Alcatraz this past Saturday, June 4th!
Despite the rain, an intimate group of participants gathered at Pier 33 to ride the ferry through the gray day to Alcatraz. The scent of our oranges, which we used in awareness and drawing exercises, lifted the cold weight of the prison walls with the burst of imagined earth and scented blossoms. We wrote letters to our ancestors, some specific, some vague and imagined, to capture a slice of the present moment in time and perhaps connect with our sense of self in the great stream of time. This workshop was the same starting point Evan used when developing the portraits with the men and youth featured in the artworks displayed in the most recent exhibit on Alcatraz.
We Players borrowed this same exercise during our workshop at the SF Juvenile Justice Center. Masks and letters to ancestors that grew out of the weeks with the youth at the JJC will be featured in our next exhibit on the Rock. We are excited to host a Youth Conference on July 23 and are inviting teens and young adults from a wide array of backgrounds to join us that Saturday afternoon! If you know someone, or group of teens, who may be interested in a unique trip to Alcatraz, please contact we players at: firstname.lastname@example.org