A PLAY AND WORKSHOP
EXPLORING WHITE SUPREMACY AND PARENTING
IN PROGRESSIVE, MIDDLE CLASS COMMUNITIES
A FUNDRAISING TOOL TO SUPPORT THE
BLACK, INDIGENOUS & PEOPLE OF COLOR-LED, MULTI-RACIAL, CROSS-CLASS
MOVEMENT FOR RACIAL JUSTICE
Photos by the Ensemble
ORGANIZE READINGS IN YOUR COMMUNITY
We invite you to organize readings on-line
or in living rooms, community centers, colleges, or theaters
There is no licensing fee. All proceeds must benefit grassroots organizing in the
Black, Indigenous & people of color-led, multi-racial, cross-class movement for racial justice
Photo by Martin Hutchinson
ORGANIZING TOOLKIT FOR COMMUNITY PRESENTATIONS
ABOUT THE PLAY & WORKSHOP
GASPING is a labor of love and resistance created in multi-racial, cross-generational partnership between 2016 and 2020. The play and workshop were developed in collaboration with over one hundred people, including ensemble members, organizing groups, and accountability partners.
The project aims to:
Foster dialogue about white supremacy and parenting in progressive, middle class communities dialogue rooted in both personal reflection and accountable action
Raise funds for the Black, Indigenous & people of color-led, multi-racial, cross-class movement for racial justice
Create theater that is bold, truthful, and rooted in the power of stories to create the future by speaking it into being
STORY OF THE PLAY
Set in a backyard garden, Gasping 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 people. 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" features a cast of two adult and two child performers and runs one hour, followed by one hour, small-group workshops.
"For those of us wounded and sickened by a whiteness that hides itself and poisons everything, here is a move towards cleansing. What about a whiteness that shows up for accountability, atonement and action? This play helps me know that work is possible."
Alexis Pauline Gumbs, PhD
Founder of Brilliance Remastered
PLAY & WORKSHOP DEVELOPMENT
Gasping was developed through a multi-year community organizing-inspired process of living room readings and community conversations, culminating in 2019 with a reading tour of eight cities across New England and New York. Part readings, part community dialogues, and part fundraisers, the tour engaged over 1000 people in dialogue about white supremacy and raised over $20,000 for grassroots, BIPOC-led racial justice organizing.
WILLAH WALDRON (she/her)
is 10 years old. She’s played softball for three years and has done dance for 5 years including acrobatics, tap, hip-hop, jazz and contemporary. Willah is inquisitive, driven, colorful, and passionate about human equality.
PAINTINGS OF ENSEMBLE BY ANGELA DAVIS JOHNSON
GASPING WAS MADE POSSIBLE BY
THE SUPPORT OF OVER 100 COLLABORATORS, ORGANIZERS, AND ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNERS.
LOVE AND GRATITUDE TO:
NETWORK OF ENSEMBLE THEATERS' TRAVEL & EXCHANGE PROGRAM (NET/TEN)
supported by lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
100% of the funding, above, supported artists or the childcare costs of artists. The majority of this funding supported artists of color.
The writer/co-director contributed his labor as an in-kind donation.
SPONSORS OF PERFORMANCES AS TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES
(especially the Western MA chapter and the Campaigns & Creative Resistance working group)
COMMUNITY ORGANIZING PARTNERS
PAST GASPING ENSEMBLE MEMBERS
Sofía Anastasia, Uwizeyimana (Wize) Angelique, Cat/Milo Bezark, Andrew Cathcart,
Hannah Pepper-Cunningham, Aubriana Mency, Nick Slie & Tasheena Stewart
2020 GASPING COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
Uwizeyimana (Wize) Angelique
INDIVIDUALS WHO OFFERED IDEAS, SUPPORT, PROVOCATION, FOOD, AND LOVE
Andrew Grant-Thomas, co-founder of embracerace.org,
which supports caregivers to raise children who are brave, informed, and thoughtful about race
Talya Kingston, who was the dramaturg for early drafts of the play and who brought together
community organizing and arts organization partners for our reading in West Stockbridge, MA
Jennie Rose Halperin, Sabrina Hamilton, Michael Hanish, Aaron Jafferis, Emily Johnson, Bessie Jones, Peter Kallok, Steph Kent, thúy lê, Rythea Lee, Nancy Leonard, Bob Leonard, Dr. Megan Lewis, Beth Mattison, Pam McMichael, Steve Moulds, Onawumi Jean Moss,
Tufara Muhammad, Rebecca Mwase, Hanifa Nayo Washington, Dr. Priscilla Maria Page, Melissa Penley, Amy Putnam, muthi reed,
Joanna Russo, Rui Santos & Rachel Silverman, Eshe Shukura, Ellie Siegel, Kelly Silliman, Sophia Skiles, Natalie Sowell, Ashley Sparks,
who modeled courage, generosity, and grace
2019 Reading Tour
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 New Orleans, LA.
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/organizers whose courage, commitment, and craft make his work possible.
I’m weeping. I’m feeling grateful for this play. I am usually angry when I see predominantly white spaces. This play holds a mirror up to the toxic pervasiveness of whiteness. I hope that people can take a close look and understand the powerful message of this work.
Beautiful and challenging. Deep and difficult and true.
A powerful and truly original piece. A story that needs to bleed into the open wounds of our country. Beautiful.