Be sure and check out this article about Actors’ Theatre’s first production of the season in The Rapidian!
World premiere of Lines: The Lived Experience of Race
“The American Dream is not for everyone,” chanted cast members at the Wednesday night dry run of Lines: The Lived Experience of Race.
“This is not a country that people can pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” the cast continued.
Over the past two years, Stephanie Sandberg and Company conducted 162 interviews focused on racism with Grand Rapids community members like Mayor George Heartwell, activist Jeff Smith known for his work with the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy, entrepreneur Tami VandenBerg who co-owns The Meanwhile, and Dr. Randal Jelks, a former history professor at Calvin College. Their goal was to come up with a model for the type of community they wanted to create and to get to the root of the lines of racism drawn in Grand Rapids.
“It was a personal challenge for me too,” Sandberg admitted. “I realized I had a lot of bias and privilege, and I needed to confront that.”
Cast member, Michael Travis, whose family has suffered racism in silence, felt that the entire process of interviewing and acting out others’ words has been cathartic.
The multi-racial cast consists of director & devising team leader, Stephanie Sandberg; ensemble members, Rena Dam, David Ellens, Edye Evans Hyde, Julianne Howe-Bowens, Jean Reed-Bahle, Lewis Richards, Calin Skidmore, Lorna Torres, Michael Travis; and original percussion composer, Hugo Claudin.
As the lights dimmed, the slanted stage glowed with projections of criss-crossed lines, city boundaries, and quotations. The backdrop flashed astounding statistics like: “Grand Rapids ranks 44 out of 331 metro areas for racial segregation.” (…click here to read the rest of the article on The Rapidian website.)