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Breathless – Anderlyn Smith, Touring Theatre Intern shares her VOICE

 

Anderlyn Smith, TTNC Intern

The death of George Floyd left me breathless. I have always felt sorrow for the countless Black men and women who died by the hands of the police. However, I experienced a deeper, almost sickening grief when hearing the news of Mr. Floyd’s death. I questioned why this case affected me differently than the others. Was it the repulsive images of Derek Chauvin burrowing his knee in Mr. Floyd’s neck, or the feeble cries of Mr. Floyd’s last breaths, or loss I recently experienced? As a Professional Theatre student at NC A&T and a Touring Theatre of NC Intern I’ve been encouraged to use my voice for the voiceless. So, my sister and I worked together to give voice to our pain by planning and holding a memorial service for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. In doing this we gave voice to the victimization and resulting pain of the Black community, and at the same time tried to cultivate hope, love and peace among our community members. The service was held on June 6, in Harrisburg, N.C. We invited our local councilman, and the county sheriff to participate. During the service the councilmen and the county sheriff proposed changes to prevent police brutality.

While planning the service, I thought of Touring Theatre of North Carolina and how it gives voice to the dignity of all individuals regardless of race, age, gender, or socioeconomic backgrounds. That’s the beauty of theatre: identifying the journey of everyone as a means of changing the world by reflecting the flaws of humanity and compelling society to change.

A Punch in the Gut – Brenda Responds to Anderlyn

Brenda Schleunes, TTNC Artistic Director

It is a wonderful gift to those of us involved with Touring Theatre to realize that our work has set an example for one of the young scholars working with us as an intern. This young woman has discovered that motivation to build an event or, in my case, a theatre piece, often lies right in front of one’s nose. One quickly recognizes that “something needs to be done, and be done now.”  These same deaths that moved Anderlyn were like “a punch in the gut” that knocked the wind out of me. As a result, I am using this time of “sheltering in” to focus my energy on the creation of a new production that explores, through public records, i.e., newspaper accounts, Facebook posts and interviews, the deep racism that continues to bubble under the surface of our country. This racism is a caustic brew of racial profiling, white supremacy and implicit bias that serves to inhibit the progress and dignity of our fellow citizens. As I work, I learn—a lot, and when this piece is finished and polished for presentation, I know that you will learn a lot, too. Thank you Anderlyn for your VOICE!

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