This proposal is the first writing I did about Delinquent in 2007, before it had a title. This was sent to Yerba Buena Center for the Arts who instigated the project by offering me a commission for the tri-annual Bay Area Now show. Much of this proposal did not happen, but it did kick the project towards manifestation. As my imagination now had some key components to work with: a deadline, a space, some copy for grant writing, some ideas to start talking. Most of my work is talked into existence.
My initial inspiration was to work with a group of youth, particularly ex-inmates or arrestees of juvenile jails and courts, to create a deconstructed version or perhaps a response to Peter Brook’s Marat/Sade. Then, I got more images that I wanted to work with when I saw a 2007 restaging of The Living Theatre’s The Brig, which is a pretty brilliant minimalist theater piece from 1962 about a US military prison in Korea, with a brutally repetitious physical score. That same summer, SF instituted gang injunctions, restricting identified gang youth from being in huge swaths of their own neighborhoods, and I was finally pushed (internally by these external situations) to commit to making a piece with youth addressing the juvenile justice (sic) system.
Some of the loftier aspects of this proposal, including the summer training program for 25 young adults, did not happen because I couldn’t raise the money. I also did not do half of the outreach that I initially imagined. The proposal included introductory information about Marat/Sade and The Brig, but I didn’t include it here. At some point I realized that I was much more interested in starting from scratch with the cast than in imposing some dated scripts from historical avant-garde theater. I have an ambivalent and latent desire to tackle some canonized text.
- written summer 2007
A NEW PROJECT
Centered at YBCA the project will also engage MoAD, building bloc and (tentatively) The Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Arriba Juntos, Critical Resistance, Youth Speaks and Galeria de la Raza’s Art in the Schools program.
The project has two primary elements: a summer 2008 performance training for 20-25 young adults and a company-devised performance featuring a cast drawn from the training to be performed at YBCA in fall 2008. Both the training and the performance will be directed by Keith Hennessy and assisted by a team of 4-6 Bay Area performance professionals.
A summer performance intensive of 3-4 weeks for up to 2 (actors, dancers, word-ists, musician/dj’s)
A cast of approx. 10 will be selected (will also self-select, i.e., who is truly interested and available?). Rehearsals would be 3 times weekly for 6-10 weeks depending on the performance dates.
I will do outreach with a few organizations to find participants. The only person I’ve talked to so far is Luis Velazquez who used to work with Arriba Juntos (also with Loco Bloco and other youth-based social projects in the mission). He, like everyone to whom I’ve mentioned this project, thinks it’s great and wants to support it.
There is a new community initiative grant with SFAC – deadline in September – that looks perfect for this project.
Professionals on the project, besides myself, will include Emily Leap (trapeze artist/dancer from Circo Zero) who is a dynamite physical trainer/dance&circus coach
I expect to bring in a specialist in teaching writing for performance (we will use the structure and inspiration of Marat/Sade but not much of the text). I’m hoping that this person will also be interested in playing dramaturg/text consultant for the project.
This will not be a Hip Hop production but it will recognize and encourage the hip hop talents and interests of the cast. I intend to create a hybrid event that includes word, choreography, physical and textual theatre, music, some kind of visuals. Depending on the cast there might be more or less circus.
The goal would be to instigate fresh perspective and critical thinking about the criminal justice system, especially for youth in California and the Bay Area. The process of mentoring the cast to develop both personal and collective voice/body would serve an expanding metaphor of the social body - inspiring a larger public to develop a voice/body that can engage with this issue, witness, speak, discuss, collaborate and take action.
The pedagogical aspects of the project speak directly to the shortcomings of public education – despite the wisdom and good intentions of thousands of public school teachers, staff and some administrators – the lack of art, dance, theatre, music as well as severe shortcomings in teaching critical thinking, the history of movements for social change, and relevant social theories to address violence, war, religion, race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, etcetera ad infinitum.
The goal is to engage political and cultural history to respond to present concerns and issues, specifically those issues of concern to young adults (partly) shaped by the criminal justice system, and more generally to issues of social change and transformation, the role of live performance, and the voice of youth in relation to tradition/history.