GASPING WHITENESS

A PLAY AND WORKSHOP

EXPLORING WHITE SUPREMACY, PARENTING, AND SILENCE

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

SCRIPT

ORGANIZING TOOLKIT FOR COMMUNITY PRESENTATIONS

 

ABOUT THE PLAY & WORKSHOP

GASPING WHITENESS 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, parenting, and silence 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 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 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 Whiteness" 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 Whiteness 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 8 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, racial justice organizing. 

 

WILLAH WALDRON (she/her)

PERFORMER

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 WHITENESS WAS MADE POSSIBLE BY

THE SUPPORT OF OVER 100 COLLABORATORS, ORGANIZERS, AND ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNERS.

LOVE AND GRATITUDE TO:

 

THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE - PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE - 

 ON WHOSE LAND WE PERFORMED THIS PLAY 

 FUNDERS 

NETWORK OF ENSEMBLE THEATERS' TRAVEL & EXCHANGE PROGRAM (NET/TEN)

supported by lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

THE WILLIAM CASPAR GRAUSTEIN MEMORIAL FUND

100% of funding 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 

FARMHANDS PRESCHOOL

SPRINGFIELD COLLEGE'S OFFICE OF MULTICULTURAL AFFAIRS

 GROUPS/ORGANIZATIONS 

ALTERNATE ROOTS

BREGAMOS THEATER

THE HAMPSHIRE COLLEGE THEATRE PROGRAM

THE FOUNDRY

the hollerin space

KO FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE

NORTHAMPTON CENTER FOR THE ARTS

SANDGLASS THEATER

SHOWING UP FOR RACIAL JUSTICE

(especially the Western MA chapter and the Campaigns & Creative Resistance working group)

theatre  [502]

 COMMUNITY ORGANIZING PARTNERS 

BLACK LIVES MATTER - LOUISVILLE

BRIDGE

CT-CORE ORGANIZE NOW!

FIRST NATIONS DIALOGUES

THE ROOT SOCIAL JUSTICE CENTER

SISTERS UNCHAINED

SOW WELL TOTS

STUDENTS 4 EDUCATIONAL JUSTICE

WESTERN MA SURJ REPARATIONS CAMPAIGN

 PAST GASPING WHITENESS ENSEMBLE MEMBERS 

Sofía Anastasia,  Uwizeyimana (Wize) AngeliqueCat/Milo Bezark, Andrew Cathcart,

Hannah Pepper-Cunningham, Aubriana Mency, Nick Slie & Tasheena Stewart

 2020 GASPING WHITESS 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

May Antaki, Eric Bass, Mary Bombardier, Djola Branner, Amy Brentano, Eleanor Brownfield, Carrie Brunk & Bob Martin,

Taiga Christie, Monique Davis, Chrsitene DeJong, Elly Donkin, Jayeesha Dutta, Ana Lua Fontes, Diana Grisanti, Nicole Gurgel-Seefeldt,

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, 

Alya Stoffer-Koloszyc, JD Stokely, Mei Ann Teo, Josh Tetenbaum, Shannon Turner, Carla Wallace, Tamilla Woodard, Tim Zimmerman,

and many others

 AND THE PARENTS OF OUR ORIGINAL CHILD CAST MEMBERS 

who modeled courage, generosity, and grace

 

 

CREATIVE TEAM

2019 Reading Tour

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 New Orleans, LA.

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/organizers whose courage, commitment, and craft make his work possible.

willmacadams.com

Mask of Gasping Whiteness by Angela Davis Johnson

 

 

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 of GASPING WHITENESS in your community? 

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