Welcome to season nine!

 

 

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Welcome to our 9th season! This season we’re tackling climate change. Climate change refers to the change of the standard weather found in a specific place. This could be a change in the rain or snow accumulation a place usually receives within a year or even a change in the place’s usual temperature for the month or season. Climate Change also refers to a change in the Earth’s overall climate. Unlike weather which can change in a few hours, climate takes hundreds or even millions of years to change (Dunbar 2015).

Throughout history, the Earth’s climate has fluctuated. Just in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat. The abrupt end of the last ice age about 7,000 years ago marked the beginning of the modern climate era (NASA 2018). Many factors can cause climate to change such as Earth’s distance from the sun, the amount of energy the sun emits, ocean levels, and when volcanoes erupt. However, most scientists agree when it comes to climate change, humans make the largest impact. Our everyday tasks such as driving cars, cooking food, and heating and cooling our homes use energy. Energy is generally made by burning coal, oil, and gas. These things release gas into the atmosphere and cause the air to heat up (Dunbar 2015). Since the 19th century, the Earth’s surface temperature has risen about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit. Although this may seem low, the 5 warmest years on record have taken place since 2010 with 2016 being the warmest year on record (NASA 2018).

The signs of climate change are all around us. With wildfires plaguing California and hurricanes pummeling the east coast, it is important now more than ever to take action. Through our production of 2071 we hope to raise awareness and encourage others to take action to improve our current climate conditions.

2071 is a dramatized lecture written by scientist Chris Rapley and playwright Duncan McMillan. The piece is partially a memoir of Rapley’s life and career and partially an explanation of climate change and of the controversies surrounding it. The title, 2071, is the year in which Rapley’s oldest grandchild will be 67 years old. This was Rapley’s age when he first performed it in 2014 at the Royal Court Theater in London.

 

 

 

  

 

Works Cited

NASA. “Climate Change Evidence: How Do We Know?” NASA, NASA, 8 Aug. 2018,

http://www.climate.nasa.gov/evidence/.

 

Dunbar, Brian. “What Is Climate Change?” NASA, NASA, 13 May 2015, http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/nasa-knows/what-is-climate-

change-k4.html.

 

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Perhaps there is no cotton picking…yet, systematic racism continues….

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/white-man-calls-cops-black-woman-pool_us_5b3f7f21e4b07b827cbfd30b

 

And it can only be proved by the article above.   It still shocks me to see such behavior.  In our productions and Talk-Backs with Our production of Ripple Effect Artists’ GUARDING THE BRIDGE/SPOKEN WORD, we address how while one may argue that there is progress, there is an inherent system at play.

Some stats that we must focus on coming from the NAACP:

  • In 2014, African Americans constituted 2.3 million, or 34%, of the total 6.8 million correctional population.
  • African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites.
  • The imprisonment rate for African American women is twice that of white women.
  • Nationwide, African American children represent 32% of children who are arrested,
    42% of children who are detained, and 52% of children whose cases are judicially
    waived to criminal court.
  • Though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately 32% of the US
    population, they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015.
  • If African Americans and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates as whites,
    prison and jail populations would decline by almost 40%.

 

And now let’s take a CLOSE look at the 13th ammendment:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

 

This systematic and ongoing slavery has taken another form.

 

Steps to take:

Sign this PETITION in New York to ensure Police are required to go through a board review.    Without this, the systematic racism that occurs in the Penal System continues.

Attend our phenomenal performance of Ripple Effect Artists GUARDING THE BRIDGE by visiting http://www.rippleeffectartists.com

 

 

Spotlight on Actor Scott Zimmerman

Scott

Scott Zimmerman (Dad) is thrilled to be working with Ripple Effect Artists and to bring awareness of important social issues to the forefront. Recently, Scott was seen as Leo in Red Shark Productions’ staging of “The Irish Exit” at The Hudson Guild Theater, as Larry, in the controversial play “The Ride” at Theater for the New City, and as Judge Ketterson in the highly acclaimed and socially explosive “Al Takes A Bride” at Oxford Space, Bkln. Scott is a proud member of Actors Equity and is proudly represented by EMERGING TALENT AGENCY (Albert Bramante) and AAG TALENT MGMT. ( Deborah Dotoli). As always thanks to Sam, Lindy, Lis, Ackerman Klan, Marci, Louise.

 

 

As  we approach this Holiday, it is often forgotten that our Founding Fathers were slave-owning white men with privilege.  While we consistently honor what they do, we must remember they too were men who viewed other people as lesser humans.   It is this sort of inherent bias that has been on-goingly discussed in our production of GUARDING THE BRIDGE and SPOKEN-WORD with DAWN SPEAKS.

Actors who can empathize with roles who we feel are villains have a great skill to be admired.  Scott Zimmerman has done just that in playing the bigoted father in GUARDING THE BRIDGE.  Scott, for your great work, we thank you.

See him in two more performances on July 18th and 30th.   Tickets at http://www.rippleeffectartists.com

 

 

What does art have to do with Stewarding Racial Diversity?….

At Ripple Effect, we say a lot….and here is proof….

 

This-Is-America

 

 

 

Over the last week, there have been hundreds of talks with scholars, students, comics, actors, and esteemed professionals analyzing this controversial and impactful video.  Questions start with “What does the first gun shot mean?”  “Why are they dancing with a fire in the background?”  And “Why the White Horse?”

When I (Executive Director of Ripple Effect Artists/Lead Producer of Guarding The Bridge Off-Broadway) first viewed this, I had many visceral reactions.   What I took away was that the entire video (with the exception of the final scene) was only African American people.   What I saw constantly was their joy, their vibrancy, their singing and dancing and just how full of life/spirit they were only to be followed by a quick and thoughtless murder.   And after all the oppression and violence, the narrator is just exhausted and needs a joint.   And what does that lead to?   More black men in prison while further feeding the white agenda of continuing slave labor.   What this also caused me and millions more to do was consider how much we pay attention to media instead of what is needed.  And these were just my interpretations.

So, does art make a difference?  I think that point has been properly addressed.   At Ripple Effect Artists (much like this video), we GO there.   We go to the uncomfortable places with regards to the ongoing subversive racism that exists in this country.  We show a man rolling  “N” word off his tongue as though it is perfectly acceptable.   We show the anger of an African American Female who has confronted outrageous oppression despite her multiple degrees and accolades.   Why?  Because it has people talk.   Talk about what?   Ways they can be aware and aid in society.   What do we ask people to do?   Take actions to further the responsibility we as white people need to take after centuries of assuming enough privilege to justify rape, violence, murder, and slavery.

Our next show is on June 19th–Juneteenth/Day of Emancipation.   Cost is $18.65 (The year of Emancipation).   See http://www.rippleeffectartists.com.

Thank you for reading.

 

A word from Our Spoken-Word Artist–Dawn Speaks!

 

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It’s simple really.  My journey in the field of education started out pretty simple. I wanted to be a college professor to start. And shortly after I returned from NY from graduate school I became a NYC Public School teacher and while my time in the system wasn’t long it was impactful.

It was long enough for me to see that I did not enjoy yelling at children, that threats were a way that many teachers managed young boys of color and when that failed call the Dean or School Safety on them to CONTROL them. That did not work for me and when released from my job, I made the leap into non-profit. Thinking I would have more autonomy and more opportunities to create the kind of programs that I was clear could have a powerful impact. But those places too had systems in place. It occurred to me at some point that they were only interested in me as a means of using my education and blackness to infiltrate the communities that they believe were “in need”.

 

Now, I spend a great deal of my time working with educators, administrators and schools on how to impact young people in ways that support them and ultimately eradicate them being moved from the school to prison pipeline. The journey is certainly not over by any means. And I use whatever platform is at my disposal to be able to impact change wherever possible. As I have been frequently told, “I am at the bottom of the next mountain.”

Racism. How do we overcome?

At Ripple Effect Artists, we take strides to leverage masterful plays that are catalysts for conversations about today’s most challenging subjects.  Theatre is a wonderful foundation for our world’s difficult issues as it demands listening, evokes humanity, and brings forth empathy.

 

Preparing for this season of works that will steward racial justice and racial equality, I am floored by how much I am learning about the systemic efforts to keep people of color disenfranchised.  I will say a lot in this blog. Much of this you will learn by attending our Ripple Effect Artists’ production with talk-backs.  If you or someone you know is not familiar with, or is resistant to phrases like “racial justice,” “systemic racism,” or “prison pipeline,” I urge you to attend.  

 

Chuck Gorden’s award winning short play Guarding the Bridge is a story wherein, on the night that MLK Jr. was assassinated, a white boy learns from his father that he should fear black people and guard his family from them.  Not by coincidence, our premier is on April 4th, 2018 – the 50th anniversary of his assassination.  Following this play is a solo spoken word performance by Dawn Speaks – an African American woman, and then the evening concludes with an audience engagement.  These performances and the context of black and white racism are further leveraged as a means to discuss all forms of prejudice and racism. For example, on April 23rd, we are honored to have 90 year old Ruth Zimbler, a survivor from the Holocaust.  She will tell her story of survival, and remind our generation of the atrocities of racial and religious prejudice.  

 

How do we earnestly overcome racism, and what is there to do in the U.S.? Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) says that post-war Germany has strove to bring closure to the atrocities of the Holocaust by urging visitors to their museums; but in the U.S. with no museum to honor the victims of slavery or lynching, we have yet to learn from our dark past. (EJI is has made plans to raise a memorial to victims of terror lynching.)  

 

I hope that you will join me for our educational theatre experience.  Theatre has the power to move people toward empathy. Our talk-backs have the power to cause real-world understanding and move audiences toward action should they choose.

 

 

I am going to touch on a little of the knowledge and data to which this project has opened my eyes.  I have inserted some of the websites, and I do encourage you to do your own research.

 

Let me preface this by stating: I am a white woman.  I am as comfortable writing about racial injustice as a man might be writing about gender injustice.  My experience is not first-hand, but as a witness. (Although, being married to a dark Filipino male, and the mother of a mixed child, I have some personal stake in ensuring that racism is eradicated.)  I hope that my voice helps bring people to empathy; specifically those who might otherwise be thinking this isn’t my fight.   And I am not just speaking of Caucasian people, but perhaps other pale skinned minorities, like my Chinese-American friend who was resistant to talk about racism – because for her it is experienced as a very minor, subtle thing.  Yet, that is what racism often looks like in contemporary times. People of color call this “new racism.” It is still unacceptable. So, while I do not have a personal experience of racism, I do have life experiences that help me to empathize, and help me stand for racial justice and reparation.

 

Firstly, and lastly, I am a human.  Standing for reparation for the toxic and traumatic effects of centuries of disenfranchisement of an entire race of people… that is not a stretch!  Yet, blind-spots and a lack of responsibility have held this empathy back from many people.

 

America’s rampant racism still exists because it is learned and habituated (our show depicts this); it is hard to be self-aware enough to eliminate all of our bad habits; and because white people benefit.  As white or passing-for-white pedestrians, we may be blind to how we benefit from racism, and it’s easy to deny. For me, too – until recently, ‘”systemic racism” sounded like a conspiracy theory. Besides, I had heard that some people of color call out their own demographic for keeping themselves oppressed.  I am sure there’s some relevance to that, and that sounds GREAT to a body of white people who don’t want to take responsibility for today’s racism in America. But regardless, those issues are symptoms. America’s racism today is still seeded by our forefathers.

 

Our white families authored American racism:  because they were the authors of the legislation that then and now still keeps people of color disenfranchised and targeted, and serves our own socio-economic needs. (Here are some resources: link and Princeton link.)  Our voting laws, war on drugs, profiling tactics and other systems are: maintaining a race-based classism that cause the school-to-prison pipeline; keeping a disproportionate number of black men in prison – sentenced far harder than whites for the same crimes, laboring at 3rd-world rates ($0.86 – $3.45/hr) to make parts for public works and the military, but also for large corporations (Honda, Victoria’s Secret, Microsoft, IKEA, to name a few); stripping away the voting rights of a huge demographic: black males.  Sounds like indentured servitude. While there is a huge debate on the ethical practice of prison labor, let us not forget the economic driving force behind it.

 

FACT: Incarceration it’s far more expensive for the TAX PAYER than education.  Our nation spends 3x more on inmates than on public school students. It doesn’t make sense to spend more on prison than on education, does it?  Let’s look at the numbers… As of 2010, in New York State each inmate cost $60,000 (the National average was $31,286); compare that to the average cost of public school per student $21,2016 (the National average was $11,392 – 2015 in New York State).  Let’s take a closer look at our city. In 2013 the New York Times reported: as of 2012, New York City’s annual cost per inmate was $167,731. (What?! That’s more than the so-called $125,000 threshold that politicians keep referring to in various scenarios of healthcare and education – for a family of 4.)  Who were those incarcerated prisoners? 57% were black, 33% were Hispanic, 7% were white, and 1% were Asian or ‘other.’  Also, 76% of that jailed population (of 12,287 prisoners) were those awaiting trail. Here is a great resource on how the legal system disproportionately affects people of color: link.  

 

It is elementary my dear Watson – the sheer cost of incarceration over education is appalling! Baffling! Ridiculous! Another scenario: Berne Sanders’ campaign estimated it would cost $75 billion (paid for by a tax imposed on Wall Street) to provide free college education in the U.S.  That’s $5 billion less than the $80 billion ($39 billion from the tax payers) we factually do spend on the prison system. Why don’t we re-prioritize and save billions of dollars; balance the budget; use the money toward education or dare I say ‘universal healthcare’?!  Why do we have this mass incarceration problem: a problem that has grown by 700% in the past 50 years?  The missing link: corporations and their lobbyists turning a $7.4 billion industry from the incarcerated.  (Resource link.)  

 

Prisons are privatized; corporations get cheap labor; and there are already plans for the next generation of prisons!  (Yes! Corporations look as school data to determine how many people will likely go to prison 25 years from now.) Mass incarceration is such good business that it is a fiscal priority outweighing education.

 

I am only newly acquainted with the phrases “systemic racism,” the “prison pipeline,” and ”restoration” – a brief period of African American prosperity last century that caused a backlash of racial terror and racist legislation.  I am baffled. My conversations in the past six months have spanned from activists to intellectuals to pedestrians; from Asians to people of color; from American Muslims, to immigrants affected by the Muslim Ban. I have listened and been guided by their strife.  I see now, racism in America will not disappear until the education and legislation are overhauled. Therefore, I stand in solidarity with the millions of Americans who are disaffected by racism.

 

If you have read this far, I hope you will attend our Ripple Effect Artists’ production with talk-backs, delve further into the issues with us, and leave with solutions toward bringing forth an American culture of racial equality and racial justice.

 

Spotlight on Actor Tim Dowd!

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Tim Dowd is a New York based actor, writer, producer and board recognized lord of the geeks. He has worked with most recently with Shakespeare and Company, The Pearl Theater and Greenbriar Valley Theater. He has performed in dozens of fight scenes, including several with lightsabers. In addition to his theatrical work is the founder of Plan Z Productions, an independent film company currently in post production for “Threeway” their first feature film.  Favorite roles include: Romeo (Romeo & Juliet), Benedict (Much Ado About Nothing), Bottom (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) CB (Dog Sees God), Adam (North to Maine) and R (R+J). 

Tim’s Statement on the upcoming production of GUARDING THE BRIDGE:
   Sadly, race relations are seemingly an ever present issue in our country and the world at large. As a child of the 90’s from the North East I was raised on the notion that we were in a “Post Racial” america. That we had come through the civil rights movement and everything was all done. It didn’t take long into adolescence to realize that, that was blindly wishful thinking. Just because Jim Crow and systemic segregation had been outlawed didn’t mean that segregation and discrimination had not found more elaborate and harder to observe methods. We as a society patted ourselves on the back for not saying racial slurs on television which allowed us to turn a blind eye to fear, hatred and insecurity in our own hearts. I think that this play examines and questions the overt racism of the past and how it was the forefathers of the more insidious racism of the modern era. It’s a piece that makes us look at the darkness in all of our hearts, and the first solution to any problem, is admitting there is one.

Jessie Fahay <rippleeffect.fahay@gmail.com>

Jan 26

to TimAnnaJessica