Last week, the internet was a buzz about the Trump supporters at the Mother of All Rallies who invited Black Lives Matter protesters to speak onstage. Not because it represents any major pendulum shift in the conversations about racial and economic inequality, but the sheer rarity of Black Lives Matter and Trump supporters listening to one another, albeit temporarily, inspires a certain amount of hope.
It’s the kind of hope that Teya Sepinuck, founder and artistic director of Theater of Witness, looks to capitalize upon and recreate this fall with her latest production, “Walk in my Shoes.”
“How can we go beyond something to a place where we do share the same humanity and the same spirit and we can listen to even what feels really hard? That’s what I care about the most,” Sepinuck said.
Her newest production will feature performances by four police officers and four local community members. Each will provide testimonies of their experiences and relationships with law enforcement and the people of Philadelphia.
By sharing these stories, “Walk in my Shoes” aims to highlight how some of the various types of trauma from these encounters affect and connect both groups.
When people of color in the arts outsell their competitors, or walk away with the biggest prizes during award seasons, it’s easy to focus on the novelty of it all.
However, in doing so, we ignore countless vital conversations. It’s great to watch Shonda Rhimes monopolize everyone’s Thursday nights — but how the hell did she get to that position?
Everybody wants more diversity, but there’s little focus on the nitty-gritty realities of the journeys for minority leaders in the arts. And more importantly, the effect of society on shaping their ideas about leadership—both in their organizations and communities.
The necessity of this discussion has increased since we entered “Trump’s America”—where theatrical expressions already collide with the contentious political atmosphere.
In this vein, and in celebration of our leaders of color series, we caught up again with the cofounders of Theatre in the X — a theatre organization that showcases theatre pieces inspired by the African diaspora for all generations in West Philadelphia, free of charge.
Carlo Campbell, Walter DeShields, and LaNeshe White agreed to speak frankly via email about their ideas of leadership and what it’s like to create art amidst the current sociopolitical atmosphere.