Art21 Extended Play

Carrie Mae Weems Commemorates Black Lives

A scene from “Grace Notes: Reflections for Now” by Carrie Mae Weems featuring the Brothers of the Tau Eta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Performed at the Sottile Theatre in Charleston, SC during Spoleto Festival USA. Production still from the series ART21 Exclusive. © ART21, Inc. 2016. Cinematography: John Barnhardt.

A scene from Grace Notes: Reflections for Now by Carrie Mae Weems featuring the Brothers of the Tau Eta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Performed at the Sottile Theatre in Charleston, SC during Spoleto Festival USA. Production still from the series ART21 Exclusive. © ART21, Inc. 2016. Cinematography: John Barnhardt.

“I’m deeply aware of the stress that’s put on our community, the stress that’s put on black women, the stress that’s put on black men. It’s not a play, it’s really this battle.” — Carrie Mae Weems

Today’s ART21 Exclusive features Carrie Mae Weems staging Grace Notes: Reflections for Now, a performance that examines the escalating racial tensions across the United States, and the role of grace in the pursuit of democracy. Although known for her work as a photographer, in Grace Notes Weems blends spoken word, music, projected video, and dance to commemorate the tragic deaths of young black men like Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin.

That is really the ultimate call of grace.

“The thing to me that is remarkable about our history, about who we are, about how we have conducted ourselves in the onslaught of history, is to maintain the core of our dignity,” says Weems to the show’s cast during a rehearsal. “That is really the ultimate call of grace.”

Grace Notes was commissioned by Spoleto Festival USA and performed in June 2016 to honor the nine churchgoers who were killed one year earlier at Emanuel AME Church, located just three blocks from the College of Charleston Sottile Theatre where Grace Notes was performed. It will be performed again at the Yale Repertory Theatre in September, as part of the No Boundaries Series.

ART21 Exclusive is supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; 21c Museum Hotel, and by individual contributors.

CREDITS: Producer: Ian Forster.  Consulting Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Kevin Alexander. Camera: John Barnhardt, Tabha Joshi & Bryant Thomas. Sound: Cory Fallows & Erik Spink. Special Thanks: College of Charleston Sottile Theatre, Spoleto Festival USA & The Wooster Group.

Grace Notes: Reflections for Now Writer & Director: Carrie Mae Weems. The Three Graces: Eisa Davis, Alicia Hall Moran & Imani Uzuri. Poets: Aja Monet & Carl Hancock Rux. Dancer: Francesca Harper. Steppers: Brothers Of The Tau Eta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Orchestra & Jazz Band: Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, Geri Allen, Calvin Jones, Curtis Nowosad & Jawwaad Taylor. Curator: Sarah Lewis. Music Director & Composer: James Newton. Composer: Craig Harris. Dramaturg: Kyle Bass. Conductor: John Kennedy. Set Designer: Matt Saunders. Costume Designer: Abby Lutz. Lighting Designer: Jonathan Spencer. Stage Production Manager: Mike Egan.

 

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