A PLAY AND WORKSHOP EXPLORING
WHITE SUPREMACY AND PARENTING
IN PROGRESSIVE, MIDDLE CLASS COMMUNITIES
Photos by the Ensemble
ABOUT THE PLAY
GASPING WHITENESS was developed between 2016 and 2019 by multi-racial, multi-generational ensembles dedicated to:
Exploring how white supremacy is passed from parent to child in progressive, middle class communities
Raising funds for - and building solidarity with - grassroots, Indigenous or people-of-color-led organizing groups working for social change
In the spring and summer of 2019, our ensemble toured readings of the play to eight communities in New England & New York. The tour raised tens of thousands of dollars for our partners and created space for hundreds of conversations grounded in both personal reflection and accountable action.
Set in a backyard garden, GASPING WHITENESS tells the stories of two families (one Black and one white) living in a progressive, middle class community. When conflicts between the two families erupt, "Gasping Whiteness" emerges, a masked figure who uses humor to speak into the silences of well-intentioned white folks. As the play unfolds through scenes both tragic and comic, it becomes clear that healing involves unearthing unspoken histories and fighting for systemic social change.
GASPING WHITENESS features a cast of two adult and two child performers and runs one hour, followed by one hour, small-group workshops.
Hundreds of people have participated in the development of the play by facilitating workshops, hosting readings, sharing stories, offering feedback, and helping to build an organizing network to present our work. The play would not have been possible without them.
Particular love and gratitude to:
NETWORK OF ENSEMBLE THEATERS' TRAVEL & EXCHANGE PROGRAM (NET/TEN), supported by lead funding from
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
THE HOLLERIN SPACE
PAST "GASPING WHITENESS" ENSEMBLE MEMBERS:
Sofía Anastasia, Wize Angelique,
Cat/Milo Bezark, Andrew Cathcart,
Nick Slie & Tasheena Stewart
AND, MOST OF ALL, THE PARENTS OF OUR
EXTRAORDINARY CHILD CAST MEMBERS,
who modeled courage, generosity, and grace
Mask of "Gasping Whiteness" by Angela Davis Johnson
READINGS IN YOUR COMMUNITY
We invite you to do readings in living rooms,
theaters, bars, or anywhere communities gather
There is no fee, provided that proceeds benefit
Indigenous or people of color-led organizing for systemic social change
Photo by Martin Hutchinson
PAINTINGS OF CHILD CAST MEMBERS
BY ANGELA DAVIS JOHNSON
WILLAH WALDRON (she/her)
is 10 years old. She’s played softball for three years and has done dance for 5 years including acrobats, tap, hip-hop, jazz and contemporary. Willah is inquisitive, driven, colorful, and passionate about human equality.
FARRIS ALDER (she/they)
is an 11-year old homeschooler who is often found climbing trees, reading books, whittling, or flipping through the air. She is a competitive gymnast, violin player, writer, maker-of-things, and actor who has performed in "Demetre and Persephone" as Persephone, and "The Hedda Variations" as Hedda’s daughter.
ANGELA DAVIS JOHNSON (she/her)
CREATOR OF MASK OF GASPING WHITENESS & LIFE-SIZED DOLLS FOR CHILD CHARACTERS
Informed by the wisdom of the matriarchs in her family, Angela creates paintings, sculptures, installations, and ritual performances to examine and archive the technologies of black folx. Her works can be seen in galleries, museums, and private collections throughout the United States. When she is not traveling, the mother of two, lives and holds space in Atlanta, GA.
TRENDA M. LOFTIN (she/her)
PERFORMER / CO-DIRECTOR
is a black, queer performance artist and educator. As the co-chair of GLSEN-Massachusetts, and co-owner of Real Live Theatre (Sunderland, MA), she is committed to integrating artistic expression and the wholeness of complicated identities into all elements of her work.
WILL MACADAMS (he/him)
WRITER / PERFORMER / CO-DIRECTOR
is a community-based playwright, director, and performer who has worked in theatre in the U.S., South Africa, Mexico, Indonesia, and Brazil. He is inspired by his students at Hampshire College and by generations of artist/orgniazers whose courage, craft, and stories have made his work possible.
Want to learn more about presenting readings
of GASPING WHITENESS in your community?