Black Lives, Black Words: Transnational Solidarity and Collective Artistic Activism
AbstractIn 2015, playwright Reginald Edmund started the Black Lives, Black Words international project in Chicago with a series of performances responding to the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives, Black Words aims at exploring Afrodiasporic experiences in multicultural cities such as Chicago and London, drawing on the lives of local communities but aiming to become a catalyst for change worldwide, while at the same time transferringthe discussion to the theatre in order to empower unheard voices in the artistic field. This article analyses three short plays that were performed at the reopening of the Bush Theatre in London in March 2017: The Interrogation of Sandra Bland, by Mojisola Adebayo, The Principles of Cartography, by Winsome Pinnock, and My White Best Friend, by Rachel De-lahay. By examining the three thematic and aesthetic axes of these plays, namely, amplification and choral performance, cartographies of struggle and white solidarity, I establish a parallel between the theatre productions and the Black Lives Matter movement, from which the project draws inspiration. At the same time, I argue for their potential to forge solidarity networks transnationally by dealing with social and political issues affecting Black communities across the US and the UK.
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