Dr. Cate Fosl of the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research at the University of Louisville, has been my hero for many years; and I was so happy to see the notice about her partnership with Louisville native Dr. Amy Steiger, Assistant Professor of Theatre at St. Mary's College in Maryland. They worked together on a theatrical performance commemorating the 60th anniversary of the court case against anti-racist warriors Carl and Anne Braden who bought a home on behalf of Andrew and Charlotte Wade in a segregated and violently anti-Black suburb in Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Stieger published a paper about this social justice research and community-based project which is available free and online - along with the manuscript of the play itself.
Steiger, Amy (2019) "Moving Forward, Living Backward, or Just Standing Still?: Newspaper Theatre, Critical Race Theory, and Commemorating the Wade-Braden Trial in Louisville, Kentucky," Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Journal: Vol. 4 , Article 5. Published by UNI ScholarWorks 2019, available at: https://scholarworks.uni.edu/ptoj/vol4/iss1/5
A copy of the full script of the play can be found at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vDwB5t9XnesEug3jmNSga2T3jDiZO6YaIV_-QfYU5aM/edit?usp=sharing
This essay, with a link to the full group-devised script of "Moving Forward, Living Backward, or Just Standing Still?" describes how graduate students entering an MFA acting program devised a performance inspired by the WPA’s Living Newspapers and Boal’s Newspaper Theatre to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Wade-Braden housing case in Louisville, KY. Drawing on critical race theory, I argue that the process, together with the script itself, offers an example of several ways performance can be used to remember and re-imagine a community’s racial history and future. It commemorated the trial itself, creating a public reminder of Louisville’s segregated, anti-Black past; it revealed intersections between segregation in Louisville and the practices of racist policing that led to Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, MO, thus connecting an historical event of local significance with a contemporary, national problem; it worked to decenter white narratives and authority; and it offered one model of how student artists can be trained to work together with community audiences to acknowledge how white supremacy is built into our laws, and imagine how we might build institutions differently moving forward.