Roger Williams In Context Arts Program

Come early to this coming Sunday’s September 4th WaterFire lighting to attend two theatrical performances as part of WaterFire’s Roger Williams in Context arts program.  The event is part of a series of performances at the Roger Williams National Memorial presented prior to WaterFire on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.  The program reexamines Roger Williams’ promises and philosophy and asks how successfully his Lively Experiment fulfilled his vision for establishing a just society based on freedom, equality and liberty.

Roger Williams’ Vision of Justice and Equality
Sunday, September 4th – Roger Williams National Memorial
5:30pm to 7:15pm  –  Free admission
[WaterFire will be lit at 7:30pm and burn until 12:30am]

Please join us for this performance on the main lawn near the intersection of North Main Street and Cady Street (opposite 199 North Main Street, Providence RI).

Roger Williams’ Vision of Justice and Equality:  How did Williams envision racial and ethnic equality for the future city of Providence — a haven founded in 1636 for all those “distressed of conscience”?   Where are we now in Providence today with respect to achieving racial and ethnic equality?

Two Providence performance artists — Jose Rodriguez and Christopher Johnson —reflect in their work on justice, community and racial equity in Providence today.   Parks Service Ranger John McNiff will begin with a brief historical context for the program.  After the two performances there will be a conversation between Jose Rodriguez, Christopher Johnson, John McNiff, Barnaby Evans and the audience.

Jose Rodriguez
“I Won’t Love You If…”
Story and performance by Jose Rodriguez
Adapted for the stage and produced by Holly L. Jensen
Directed by Nancy Lucia Hoffman
Media design by Archie Johnson
Premiered at FringePVD in July, 2016

If you drop out of school in 7th grade, how will you navigate a world where reputation is everything and simply staying alive is a challenge every day? How far would you go for acceptance and safety?

In this solo performance, Jose Rodriguez shares his personal journey from growing up on dangerous streets, to his years behind bars, and then his return to the same dangerous streets, this time working for peace.

Christopher Johnson
“New and Dangerous Ideas”
Performed and written by Christopher Johnson

While on a 20 day artist retreat in Sedona Arizona, America lost the lives of Delrawn Small, Philandro Castile, and Alton Shelton to police violence within a single 24-hour period. It was then Christopher decided to break his silence on his own arrest for walking while black in Providence, Rhode Island. What was uncovered was a history of police violence in his city perpetrated by his arresting officer.

This new work by Johnson confronts the idea of a government established to protect individual “liberty of conscience,” equality, civil rights and tolerance in a country where the rights of “citizenship” can be challenged due to skin color being criminalized.

About the Artists:

Jose Rodriguez lives in Providence, RI and works as a Victim Services Case Manager at The Institute for the Study & Practice of Nonviolence. He was born in Puerto Rico and has also lived in New York and Massachusetts. Jose graduated from Charter Oak State College in 2014 with an associate degree in Community Development. He is a proud father of two daughters and one son. “I Won’t Love You If…” was his debut acting performance when presented at the FringePVD Festival in July 2016.

Christopher Johnson Presently touring with Everett Company Stage & Schools’ production of “Freedom Project” (a multimedia physical theater piece that examines mass incarceration in America) is a published and international award-winning spoken word artist and poet and playwright. A Providence implant, Christopher earned a live/work artist residency at AS220, where for two years he honed his brand of spoken word/poetry, combining intrinsic musicality, the drama of theater, and vivid imagery of the dramatic essay to give voice, face, and connect the disenfranchised to the privileged with a universal message of humanity. In 2007, he won an international competition that launched a two-year tour of colleges and venues throughout the American Midwest and eastern seaboard. Christopher is best known for being the 2013 Providence Poetry Slam and Northeast Slam Champion; the 375th birthday celebration poet for the city of Providence, Rhode Island; writing the Inaugural Celebration Poem for Brown University’s 19th President; and performing poetry at opening ceremonies for the PVD International Music Festival. He facilitates adult/youth workshops as an artist educator in the state of Rhode Island and throughout the United States.

Holly L. Jensen‘s plays have been produced in the United States and Australia. Her play, age_sex_location, was part of The Wilbury Group’s New Works Program in 2015. Her short play, Class Act: Version 379, is published in the Boston Theater Marathon XI Anthology and the Louisville Review (Number 66) and Flesh is published in the Boston Theater Marathon XII Anthology. Lizzy Izzy was produced in the 14th Annual Women’s Playwriting Festival at Perishable Theatre in 2008. Holly earned an MFA in Playwriting from Spalding University. She lives in Pawtucket, RI with her two cats and a bunny niece and pug nephew who visit occasionally.

Nancy Lucia Hoffman is grateful for being able to participate in this project. Nancy is a performer, director, writer and dramaturg who has lived in Rhode Island since 2004. She holds an MFA in Dramaturgy from University of Iowa, as well as a Screenwriting Certificate from the University of Washington. She won a RISCA screenwriting merit award in 2007. Along with food, clothing, and shelter, Nancy believes telling our stories is a basic need.

Arthur “Archie” Johnson is a producer and resident of Providence, RI who has been in the entertainment field for over 25 years. Aside from having a history of working with many international artists, Archie is the VP of, the founder of the New Rhode Island Music and Arts Coalition and the founder of the teen television show, Teen Connect. Now in its eighth year of production, Teen Connect focuses on the powerful voices of teens and has now become part of the community-wide coalition in Providence, Unified Solutions at Roger Williams University. Archie is also a street worker for the Institute for the Study & Practice of Nonviolence in Providence and in his spare time is a mentor, community activist, photographer, co-owner of 316 Music Studio and is the newest production instructor for Press Press TV’s Providence chapter.

WaterFire’s Roger Williams in Context art series is made possible by support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the RI State Council on the Arts, the General Assembly of the State of Rhode Island, and the National Park Service.

The next performances in the series are:

Tribal Torch Honoring Ceremony
Friday, September 23
Gathering will begin at sunset at 6:39pm – Free admission
Roger Williams National Memorial

Please join us for a Tribal Torch Honoring Ceremony to welcome visiting tribal leaders and participants and to acknowledge the contributions of tribal leaders and local dignitaries their ongoing commitment to the success of the annual New England Native American Culture Week over the past seven years.  A Torch Honoring Ceremony will lead to the lighting of the central fire for the Powwow for the next two days.

[Note: There is no WaterFire lighting on September 23, but there is one on the evening of September 24th.]

The 7th Annual Big Drum Powwow
Saturday, September 24 and Sunday, September 25
10:00am to 5:00pm – Free admission  (partner event)
Roger Williams National Memorial

Daryl Black Eagle Jamieson of the Pocasset Pokanoket Tribe and Raymond Two Hawks Watson welcome you to the Big Drum Powwow featuring The Eastern Host Drums, The Eastern Medicine Singers, and The Mountain Spirit Singers presenting American native music, singing, drumming, dancing, food, and crafts.

[WaterFire will be lit at 6:40pm and burn until 12:30am]

Roger Williams and Slavery:  From Liberty to Bondage to Now
Saturday, October 1
5:00pm to 6:30pm – Free admission
Roger Williams National Memorial  

Roger Williams’ and Slavery:  From Liberty to Bondage to Today:  The Slavery Question and the Civil War.   Director, writer and actor Robb Dimmick presents his masterful Lincoln Portrait in an examination of liberty, consciousness, and slavery from the founding of Providence to the abolition of slavery.

[WaterFire will be lit at 6:40pm and burn until 12:30am]


Author: Tim Blankenship

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