Saturday, September 20, 2008

"No Strangers Here Today," Sept. 28

I received an email about this play by Susan Banyas based on the journals of her grandmother, a collaborator in the Underground Railroad. The production will be performed one night only at the Quaker Meeting House in Brooklyn Heights. Here's the info I received:

In association with SO&SO&SO&SO, BROOKLYN MONTHLY MEETING (QUAKERS) presents:

no strangers here today
a movement monologue + live music

written, choreographed & performed by SUSAN BANYAS
music composed & performed by DAVID ORNETTE CHERRY
movement & vocal direction by Gregg Bielemeier & Gwynne Warner

SEPTEMBER 28, 2008, 7PM
110 Schermerhorn St. Brooklyn, NY (corner Boerum Place)

by donation/discussion to follow

"No Strangers Here Today" was a coded message in the diary of Elizabeth Edwards, a Quaker farmwoman whose family was a link in the clandestine, bi-racial resistance movement, known as the Underground Railroad. Elizabeth's great-great grandaughter, Susan Banyas, teams with jazz composer David Ornette Cherry, to deliver a powerful movement based monologue with live music that links American history, memory, and the activist's spirit.

Elizabeth Edwards' diary entries are the heartbeat of this epic American story, evoking imaginative detail of place and time, her motherly concern for her son, a soldier in the Union Army, and the quietly coded references to her political and spiritual activism. The elegant music and movement-spoken word compositions affirm the legacy of the Underground Railroad, a commitment to uphold human rights and oppose economic, political, and personal tyranny by the ruling elite.

Early doctrine of the Society of Friends, who settled in the new colonies in 1682, states without compromise: "War is incompatible with the Christian spirit. Slavery must be eradicated." By opposing the "binding character of authority," the doctrine connected the dots between war, power and oppression, a philosophy echoed today by anti-war activist, Chris Hedges, former war correspondent and NY Times bureau chief in the Middle East. "Historical memory is hijacked by those who carry out war," he writes. "The return of historical memory restores a common language to the one usurped by war." No Strangers Here Today is written in solidarity with the Ancestors who lived through those times and inspire a vision of connection and call to action.

"A stirring portrait of abolitionist effort; illuminating morally and historically." Marty Hughley , The Oregonian

This is what NYC audience members (LaMama ETC. show in Feb.2008) have to say:

A simple lantern lights the way back to a history where even the most basic human rights were in jeopardy. This is an American journey to a time when a few very brave souls reached out to save many from the tyranny of slavery. In doing so they built a legacy for the world today. This ensemble piece combines the dramatic spoken word with a live music score. The performers convey brilliantly the urgency and drama of this particular moment in history. It truly must be experienced!
Richie Williamson, director/producer, WildKind, NYC

This show resounded long after I saw it! Every time we were brought back to the diary, I was propelled back in knees were shaky, my breath was short....if there WERE "strangers (ie: slaves) today", would they make it on their dangerous trip north? Susan's great-great-grandmother was such a strong diarist, and the show gives her center stage.

Loved David's and Susan's collaboration - music, atmosphere, words, movement - all giving us, the audience, a chance to be with them intimately, sharing their passion for this fascinating and frightening time.
Lanny Harrison, actress, theater director, teacher NYC

Susan Banyas is the rarest of performers, an artist who radiates honesty and conviction. In her moving ' 'No Strangers Here Today,' she tells us, with movement and music, the mostly-true, though partly-imagined story of her great-great-grandmother's role in the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad - a history she's pieced together from her Quaker ancestor's diary and family and local histories. It's relevance today is not lost on us. And Banyas is the most captivating of story-tellers.
Alan Brown, NYC author, 'Audrey Hepburn's Neck' director, 'Book of Love' and 'Superheroes'

Contact: Loren Weybright 917-710-7994
additional information:

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