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The Black Power Series

A man speaking an pointing amidst a crowd.
Profile of Stokely Carmichael speaking and gesturing in midst of crowd near the Capitol in Washington, DC (Alamy/Everett Collection).

I often think about whether or not my work is futile; I wonder if theatre can even have a tangible impact in the face of insurmountable difficulties. Much like the main characters in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, I try – we all try — to make meaning, even when this feels daunting. 

When I have these moments, I think back to the earliest record of human existence; how evidence of our original impulse to communicate survives on cave walls and in ancient temples. We are naturally inclined towards documenting ourselves to make sense of the time we are in and to record it for posterity. When I think of any art form’s legacy, I think of this unfinished business. How art exists not to solve the problems of this world, but to “hold the mirror up to nature” as said by Shakespeare’s Hamlet. 

Our work is to interpret the story – to mine it for meaning – right now. In this regard, a script becomes a literary monument to remind us of what it means to be here and to be human. This is the anchor that grounds me in my work and the compass that has guided our programs for the upcoming (and final) production of the 2023/24 season, Stokely: The Unfinished Revolution. During the run of this production, we will be launching the Black Power series, including talks, archival explorations, and artist responses honoring the monumentality of Black creativity. 

We are excited to highlight  the Chicago SNCC History Project Archives, a part of the Vivian Harsh Research Collection at the Woodson Regional Chicago Public Library,  as part of our upcoming programs. Sourcing research from this archive will allow us to make connections between the Black Power movement on Chicago’s South Side and its impact on the national Civil Rights movement from 1966 to 1968, during Stokely’s term as Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. The Black Power series aims to call attention to  the necessity of Black studies, conjuring counter-narratives that imagine an expansive and liberatory Afrofuture.    

I cannot wait to share more information with you soon. I hope you’ll join us on this journey. 

The Black Power Series runs May 23 – June 10, and Stokely: The Unfinished Revolution runs May 24 – June 16. Tickets to both events are available online or by calling the Box Office at (773) 753-4472.

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Kamilah Rashied is the Director of Engagement at Court Theatre. Rashied is an arts administrator, producer, educator, and artist with 20 years of experience in cultural production, education, and community outreach. Cultivating a broad range of programs for the public, Rashied has contributed to the development of programs at venerable arts and culture organizations across Chicago.

Posted on March 22, 2024 in Productions

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