Monday, June 22, 2015

Unloose This Tied Up Justice: SHAKE 38 and the Measure4Measure Project

from Jennifer Wintzer 

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents Shakespeare and works inspired by Shakespeare. We are in the schools, in the streets, and in the park. Our work seeks to better the community, facilitate a diverse conversation, and encourage collaboration across disciplines. Through the Festival’s community-wide program, SHAKE 38, we invite St. Louis to participate in a marathon celebration of Shakespeare’s thirty-eight plays. Since the first year in 2010, SHAKE 38 has grown from a thirty-eight-hour performance by 200 artists to an event attracting up to 2,000 artists from across the region and a variety of community partners. This year, for the first time, SHAKE 38 extended to a national audience by bringing artists together for the Measure4Measure Project...

SHAKE 38 became a platform to facilitate conversation across the country. A call for submissions was posted by Saint Louis University for spoken word and poetry to be shared on themes of justice and equality from Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure. The project culminated in a film, by Alec Wild. Wild weaved text from the Bard’s play alongside student poetry and select work from professional artists in the St. Louis spoken word community. The film premiered this past April on SLU’s campus as one of the many community-driven Shakespeare events in the Festival’s SHAKE 38 program. Here is what our partners had to say when asked “Why this project? Why now?”

Kimani, MCC Youth Company, New York City:
If injustice is the match that sparks revolutions, artists make sure everybody knows and cares about the fact that a revolution is taking place, and they try to get everybody on the right side of history. The students in St. Louis are near the epicenter of racial tension in this country. They can do things in the movement and be involved in ways that I can't, and I want them to realize how important that is.

Jose Olivarez, Poet-Linc Manager, Lincoln Center Education, New York City:
Zora Neale Hurston let us know that “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

When Jennifer [Wintzer] reached out to me about a collaboration between young people in St. Louis and New York City responding to the themes of justice and equality, I knew that my students would be interested in participating in this exchange. This collaboration was important to us because community is a core value of our program. We were excited to get the chance to build community with writers in St. Louis. To exchange stories with each other and find out firsthand what is really going on. I like to think of this collaboration and the resulting short film not as the end, but as an invitation to join the conversation: Ferguson is everywhere in America.

- See more at: HowlRound

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