THEATRES OF REVOLUTION: PERFORMANCE, PEDAGOGY, AND PROTEST
Plimoth Plantation & Wampanoag Homesite
Date: Thursday, August 2
Time: 8:15 AM - 2:00 PM (approx.)
Spaces Available: 50
Coordinator: Bethany Hughes, University of Michigan
Plimoth Plantation through Indigenous Eyes
Take a guided tour through Plimoth Plantation led by a Wampanoag (Native American) historical interpreter. Experience the historical village and interact with Native American interpreters, the only Plimoth interpreters who speak from a modern perspective and are not "in 17th century character." This freedom to speak about the relationship between the past and the present will provide insight into the history of the English settlement, colonial relations between settler states and Indigenous peoples, and ongoing projects of reclaiming the past and shaping the future. The tour will end with a 17th century Wampanoag Feast, a meal comprised of traditional Indigenous foods such as venison stew, Three Sisters (squash, beans, corn), and berries. Roundtrip bus transportation is included.
8:30 AM - Board bus
9 AM - 10 AM - Drive to Plimoth Plantation
10 AM - 12 PM - Tour Plimoth Plantation
12 PM - 1 PM - Lunch (Wampanoag Feast)
1 PM - 2 PM - Return to conference hotel
African American Freedom Trail
Date: Friday, August 3
Time: 3:15 PM Tour (Part 1*)
6:45 PM Roundtable (Part 2*)
*Attendees may participate in either or both parts
Spaces Available: 40
Coordinator: Monica White Ndounou, Dartmouth College
Re-Enacting Boston’s Black History on the African American Freedom Trail | Part 1 of 2*
This excursion will involve a tour of Boston’s black theatre history on the African American Freedom Trail. The African American Freedom Trail Project at Tufts recently launched an interactive web map that documents black history sites throughout Greater Boston. Some 115 sites are currently listed, but the organizers said that is just the beginning. This will be followed by a session discussing the rewards and challenges of staging Boston’s black history in museums, theatres and historical re-enactments (see Part II).
The trail will likely include the following sites:
- Zipporah Potter Atkins Kennedy Greenway and Hanover Street: Site of the only 17th century African American woman to own property in Boston, close to the hotel where the attendees will be staying, and an introduction to Boston's black history.
- Long Wharf and Custom House Block State Street and Atlantic Avenue: Site of a major eighteenth century port within the Atlantic slave trade, to which Boston and New England were central. Like Zipporah Atkins' site it is close to the hotel and will orient attendees to Boston's history.
- African Meeting House and the nineteenth century black community on the north slope of Beacon Hill: The meeting house is the oldest extant black church building in the United States, and the community that surrounded it produced some of the nineteenth century's most significant black artists and performers, including William Wells Brown (author of Clotel and founder of a black theatre troop in Boston in 1866).
- Colored American Magazine 5 Park Square: Edited by Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins, the first African American woman to write, produce, and direct a stage play in the 1870s.
- Boston Symphony Hall, Huntington Avenue: Site of performances by Roland Hayes, first black tenor to perform with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
- Tremont Theater 175 Tremont Street: Site of William Monroe Trotter's protest against Birth of a Nation (1915). Beginning of theatre district where post-bellum / pre-Harlem black artists performed, including the Hyers Sisters (1871 - 1879), Bert Williams, James Weldon and Rosamond Johnson et al.li>
- Washington , including site of the Savoy Ballroom, Wally's, and Boston's 1950s black theatre scene.
- Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists 500 Walnut Street, Roxbury: Sponsor of black artists in Boston and New England, including Elma Lewis, Lois Mailou Jones, Alan R. Crite, and others.
Re-Enacting Boston’s Black History on the African American Freedom Trail | Part 2 of 2*
This roundtable discussion on the rewards and challenges of staging black history in Boston museums, theatres and historical re-enactments will follow a tour on the African American Freedom Trail. Participants will include such as the Co-Directors of the African American Heritage Trail and representatives from the Robbins House, the Museum of African American History, the African American Historical and Genealogical Society, the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists.
Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum
Date: Saturday, August 4
Time: 1:00 PM Meet at conference hotel; Tour 1:30 PM – 2:45 PM
Price: $22.50 adults; $20.00 seniors; $14.50 students
Coordinator: Andrew Gibb, Texas Tech University
The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum commemorates one of the most famous performative events of the US American revolutionary period of the eighteenth century. Within easy walking distance of the conference hotel, the Museum features restored period sailing vessels, which serve as backdrops for interactive reenactments guided by historical interpreters.
The Boston Tea Party was a political protest by the Sons of Liberty in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 16, 1773. In defiance of the Tea Act of May 10, 1773, the demonstrators, some disguised as Native Americans, destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company. They boarded the ships and threw the chests of tea into Boston Harbor. The British government responded harshly and the episode escalated into the American Revolution. The Tea Party became an iconic event of American history, and since then other political protests such as the Tea Party movement have referred to themselves as historical successors to the Boston protest of 1773.
The Tea Party was the culmination of a resistance movement throughout British America against the Tea Act, which had been passed by the British Parliament in 1773. Colonists objected to the Tea Act because they believed that it violated their rights as Englishmen to "no taxation without representation", that is, to be taxed only by their own elected representatives and not by a British parliament in which they were not represented. In addition, the well-connected East India Company had been granted competitive advantages over colonial tea importers, who resented the move and feared additional infringement on their business. Protesters had successfully prevented the unloading of taxed tea in three other colonies, but in Boston, embattled Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused to allow the tea to be returned to Britain.
The Boston Tea Party was a significant event in the growth of the American Revolution. Parliament responded in 1774 with the Coercive Acts, or Intolerable Acts, which, among other provisions, ended local self-government in Massachusetts and closed Boston's commerce. Colonists up and down the Thirteen Colonies in turn responded to the Coercive Acts with additional acts of protest, and by convening the First Continental Congress, which petitioned the British monarch for repeal of the acts and coordinated colonial resistance to them. The crisis escalated, and the American Revolutionary War began near Boston in 1775.
History Alive – Cry Innocent
Date: Saturday, August 4
Time: 8:30 PM | Conference Hotel
Coordinator: Megan Shea, New York University
Is Bridget Bishop a witch? This question lies at the center of Cry Innocent, a play performed daily over the summer at the Old Town Hall in Salem, Massachusetts. Actors help recreate history for the tourists and school groups that flock to Salem, seeking to learn more about the hysteria that shaped American culture. Now the creators of Cry Innocent bring Salem to ATHE, asking spectators to bear witness to the investigation of Bridget Bishop—historically the first person to be put to death in the Salem Witch trials of 1692-3. Here the audience will act as a kind of grand jury, hearing testimony and looking for signs of witchcraft, as they decide whether to send Goody Bishop to trial.
History Alive, Inc. is committed to the production of new plays and theatrical scenarios based on true stories from the past. Emphasis is given to interactive theatre so that actors and audience together, through a playful and dynamic way of engaging with history, might broaden their understanding of the present and gain a fresh sense of purpose within their own era. The company also seeks to invigorate Salem’s economy by designing activities that connect the community and its visitors to a distinct, local history.
Call Mr. Robeson
Date: Saturday, August 4
Time: 9:30 PM | Conference Hotel
Written and Performed by Tayo Aluko
Directed by Olusola Oyeleye, Designed by Phil Newman
Call Mr. Robeson
“They say I’m meddling in the foreign affairs of the United States Government. Now, that’s too bad, ‘cause I’m going to have to continue to meddle...”
Paul Robeson is a world-famous actor, singer and civil rights campaigner. When over the years he gets progressively too radical and outspoken for the establishment's liking, he is branded a traitor to his country, harassed, and denied opportunities to perform or travel. Just as physical, emotional and mental stress threaten to push him over the fine line between genius and madness, he is summoned to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee, to give the most difficult and important performance of his career.
This roller-coaster journey through Robeson’s remarkable and eventful life highlights how his pioneering and heroic (but largely forgotten) political activism led many to describe him as the forerunner of the civil rights movement. It features much fiery oratory and some of his famous songs, including a dramatic rendition of Ol’ Man River.
Tayo Aluko Bio:
Nigerian-born Tayo Aluko lives in Liverpool, UK. He has fronted orchestras as baritone soloist in concert halls, and performed lead roles in operas and musicals. CALL MR ROBESON has won numerous awards at festivals in the UK and Canada, and has also taken him to Jamaica, Nigeria, Australia and New Zealand. Performances in the US include New York’s Carnegie Hall. Tayo delivers a lecture/concert titled FROM BLACK AFRICA TO THE WHITE HOUSE: a talk about Black Political Resistance, illustrated with spirituals. He researched, wrote and narrated to camera a piece on pre-Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade West African History, which forms part of the permanent exhibit at Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum. His 15-minute play, HALF MOON, which deals with ancient Africa has been performed several times in the UK. His piece titled WHAT HAPPENS? features the writings of Langston Hughes, performed with live jazz accompaniment. He has been published in The Guardian, The Morning Star, NERVE Magazine, Modern Ghana and Searchlight Magazine. His new play JUST AN ORDINARY LAWYER has been performed on three continents, including at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in August 2017 and the Harare International Festival of the Arts in May 2018.
Excursion/Performance Series Moderated Roundtable
Date: Sunday, August 5
Time: 9:45 AM – 11:15 AM | Conference Hotel
Moderated roundtable with representatives from Wampanoug Project, re-enactors from Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, actors from History Alive (Cry Innocent), Tayo Aluko (Call Mr. Robeson) and Directors of sites on the African American Freedom Trail.