GASPING WHITENESS

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:

 

 ALTERNATE ROOTS

THE HAMPSHIRE COLLEGE THEATRE PROGRAM 

NETWORK OF ENSEMBLE THEATERS' TRAVEL & EXCHANGE PROGRAM (NET/TEN), supported by lead funding from

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

THE HOLLERIN SPACE

KO FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE (Amherst, MA) 

THE WILLIAM CASPAR GRAUSTEIN MEMORIAL FUND

PAST "GASPING WHITENESS" ENSEMBLE MEMBERS:

Sofía Anastasia,  Wize Angelique,

Cat/Milo Bezark, Andrew Cathcart, 

Hannah Pepper-Cunningham,
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

 

ORGANIZING KIT FOR COMMUNITY PRESENTATIONS

SELECTIONS

FROM THE SCRIPT

PAINTINGS OF CHILD CAST MEMBERS

BY ANGELA DAVIS JOHNSON

WILLAH WALDRON (she/her)

PERFORMER

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.  

CREATIVE TEAM

FARRIS ALDER (she/they)

PERFORMER

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.

angeladavisjonhson.com

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.

trendaloftin.com

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.

willmacadams.com

 

 

 Want to learn more about presenting readings 

 of GASPING WHITENESS in your community? 

  Click the box (below) and fill out the form.  We'll follow up with a complete script and details about next steps.  
 

RECENT NEWS about GASPING WHITENESS 

(CLICK BELOW)