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“Juneteenth” from Roberta Inshco-Cox

In Assistantship, Community Producitons, Directing, Green Show, Uncategorized on May 21, 2017 at 8:05 AM

JuneteenthblogFor the past few weeks, I’ve been working on co-curating Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Juneteenth celebration, which this year will be held on Monday, June 19th, with Sam White, JaMeeka Holloway and Nemuna Ceesay. Last year I was able to attend Juneteenth as a community member because I was in town to see a weekend of shows. Now, I’m excited to be a part of the actual planning of the event, the curation of the material to be performed, and working as an ally alongside my fearless co-curators.

Juneteenth is a world-wide celebration to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. Traditionally, Juneteenth services and events around the world have focused on community and education. I remember last year, a couple poignant moments were Christopher Henry Young’s choreography to “Rise up,” and the repetition of “yesterday was Emmet Till, Emmet Till was yesterday,” by a FAIR participant,  who popped up from the audience unexpectedly. Both were powerful and full of emotion, and ones that have stayed with me for a year now; a sort of emotional education.

This year our theme is “For Us, By Us: celebrating black joy, resilience and resistance,” and our goal is to move away from using this event to educate, but rather celebrate the joy of the black community, the resilience to move forward even in times of trouble, and the welcoming of ally-ship. Our curating team has already put in a ton of work, but I’m already feeling the pressure of time, as we only have a month left to wrap up planning, building the set list, and scheduling rehearsals for our choreography moments. Thankfully, we have also commissioned Christopher Henry Young to choreograph our opening number, and our first rehearsal was this week! Such beautiful work! He’s a joy to work with, and I had a ton of fun participating in learning his choreography. It was a blast, and I felt very welcomed! Planning this event has really challenged me, not allowing myself to hide away in my room when I’m not in rehearsals for Merry Wives of Windsor. I was originally nervous to speak up about wanting to participate in the organizing of Juneteenth, but I’m so glad that I did. My own community while here in Ashland has expanded ten-fold, and I’m feeling engaged and active in a completely different way.

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