#Ferguson: The Ferguson Moment

by The Ferguson Moment

in Diversity & Inclusion

Post image for #Ferguson: The Ferguson Moment

(Ed. Note: The following blog salon series will focus on how theatre artists are responding to Michael Brown’s death and the oppression, violence, and resistance happening in Ferguson, MO. This series grew out of a series of discussions between Oregon based theatre-makers Claudia Alick, Mica Cole and Massachusetts based theatre-maker Megan Sandberg-Zakian, and myself. If you would like to participate in this series, please email Gus Schulenburg.)

Just after noon on August 9, 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was walking in the middle of the street with a friend, when Officer Wilson told them to get on the sidewalk. There was a confrontation. What happened between the two men is under contention. But we know that Michael Brown was unarmed. Photos and videos show Brown’s lifeless body lying face down in the street.  According to an independent autopsy report, he was shot six times: twice in the head and four times in the right arm.

As the community of Ferguson became aware of what happened spread, they stood together in protest. Police, in full riot gear, have responded with a massive show of force. Armored vehicles have lined the streets. Tear gas has been used on protestors. Molotov cocktails, bricks and other objects have been thrown at police. Shootings have been reported. Looting has occurred. Property has been destroyed. Arrests have been made. The governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, declared a state of emergency in Ferguson. The National Guard has been called in.

As news of these events came forward, we connected with theatre artists in Ferguson and across the nation. We came together to spark and organize a national artistic response to the oppression, violence, and resistance happening in Ferguson, MO and its relationship to all of our communities and American history.

We call this THE FERGUSON MOMENT because we understand that this moment in American history is emblematic of so many in our past.

We call this THE FERGUSON MOMENT because we understand that this moment in American history is an opportunity to address similar events and trends in our own communities.

We call this THE FERGUSON MOMENT because we can take responsibility for crafting one moment, in one space, at one time. It is our hope that this moment will spark more in turn all over our country. Hopefully these sparks will fuel our national conversation, our growth, our change, our healing. 

We are calling on theatre artists across the nation to spark and organize national artistic responses to the oppression, violence, and resistance happening in Ferguson, MO and its relationship to all of our communities and American history. Our hope is that this is an ONGOING dialogue. We call this dialogue THE FERGUSON MOMENT. We don’t know what this will turn into but this weekend we have THREE GOALS:

1) SERVE: We are asking artists to hold time on Saturday, August 23 to support community organizations in Ferguson.

2) WITNESS: We are asking artists to show up in Ferguson to witness this moment in history. To take it in, to document, to listen and to UPLIFT THE VOICES OF THE PEOPLE OF FERGUSON. We will coordinate travel and locations once on the ground in St. Louis.

3) COLLABORATE: We are asking artists to join us on Sunday, August 24th at 6:30 pm CST at the RAC in St. Louis. We will dialogue with artists from the St. Louis area to discuss/present their artistic responses to this moment and how we can facilitate a national dialogue around this moment. This event is being created in close collaboration and dialogue with a diverse group of artists in the St. Louis/Ferguson area.


Who We Are:

Claudia Alick and Mica Cole  are producers at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon. Megan Sandberg-Zakian is a director based in the Boston, MA area. Jacqueline E. Lawton is playwright, dramaturg, and TCG’s Diversity and Inclusion online curator.

We know each other through Theatre Communications Group’s convenings on diversity, inclusion, and equity in the national theater field. What began as a few Facebook statuses about mobilizing an artist response has become an opportunity to organize a national conversation. We’ve been having lots of conversations with Ferguson and St. Louis based artists about timing and the purpose of artists showing up. We know it’s tricky. What started as an impulse to create art with the artists in the St. Louis area has evolved into a call for citizen artists to show up and partner with community service organizations to provide needed support with basic services, as well as to show up in solidarity with the protestors as witnesses/documenters who can lift up voices from within the community and thus offer alternative narratives to our networks and the nation.

What You Can Do:

1)      Join our “Roll Call” of interested artists.

Click here to fill out this form to share your name, your organization or affiliation, and interest and skills.

2)      Come to Ferguson to witness and stand in solidarity.

Folks are asked to please get in touch with local organizations to get your marching orders and be sure you are part of an organized response. Be persistent and patient as information is not always immediately easy to find. Also please be safe. It’s volatile out there. Organizations include:

PICO National Network – Unlocking the Power of the People
PICO’s path to building a more just world involves teaching people of faith how to build and exercise their own power to address the root causes of the problems they face. In PICO, this struggle for justice is rooted in our faith.
Website: www.piconetwork.org
Twitter: @PicoNetwork

The Organization for Black Struggle (OBS)
OBS was founded in 1980 by activists, students, union organizers and other community members in order to fill a vacuum left by the assaults on the Black Power Movement. Their mission is to build a movement that fights for political empowerment, economic justice and the cultural dignity of the African-American community, especially the Black working class.
Website: obs-onthemove.org
Twitter: @OBS_STL

Fellowship of Reconciliation
The Fellowship of Reconciliation is composed of women and men who recognize the essential unity of all creation and have joined together to explore the power of love and truth for resolving human conflict.
Website: http://forusa.org/

3)      Attend “The Ferguson Moment” on Sunday night, August 24th.

As we finalize the evening, details will be posted on our blog. Follow and use hashtag #FergusonMoment on Twitter to participate in the conversation.

4)      Commit to being part of an ongoing, national creative response.

Consider organizing your own “Ferguson Moment” on Sunday, August 24 – a community forum, dedicated to open discussion about “the art you’re making and the art that you want to make in response to this moment.” Click here to let us know what you’re planning. We will include your event on our blog. Afterwards, Jacqueline will be in touch about how to report out on the TCG Circle.

This is a rapid performing arts response. We want to serve the people of Ferguson, support the artists of Ferguson, witness this moment in Ferguson so that we can challenge false narratives, stand firmly against bias and injustice, uplift the voices of the people with our collective resources, and collaborate artistically with artists in Ferguson and nationally because art and protest are the most powerful examinations and proclamations of our existence and our right to exist.


claudia alickClaudia Alick, Associate Producer, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, produces the events that bring OSF into artistic collaboration with our community such as “The Green Show”, The Daedalus Project, and Juneteenth.  She develops hip-hop based projects like Mixing Texts, the Hip-hop Boot Camp, and OSF Open Mics as well as producing audio-plays with OSF such as the Grammy nominated Hamlet. Named by American Theater Magazine as one of 25 theater artists who will shape American Theater in the next 25 years, Alick has served as the Artistic Director of Smokin’ Word Productions, is a playwright, and is a member of the award winning NY Neofuturists, and featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam.  She is a winner of a NYC Fresh Fruit directing award.  Her latest one person Show “Fill in the Blank” exploring disability and the medical industry was last performed in the 2013 OSF’s Presents series.  Described by Bob Holman as a “Sexy librarian” her fiery, inspirational, and often humorous poetry looks at race, identity, and the struggle to be human.

Mica Cole Associate Producer, Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Other theatres: Executive Director, Free Street Theatre, Chicago; Resource Consultant, MPAACT Theater Company; Director of Education and Audience Engagement, Writers’ Theatre; member and producer, Serendipity Theatre Collective; lead artist and producer, Columbia College. Teaching and service: Latino Theatre Commons, Columbia College Chicago, Now Is the Time Planning Committee, Arts Infusion, Theatre Communications Group Young Leaders of Color, Chicago Theater Symposium, TCG National Conference. Education and training: BFA, theater, the Theater School at DePaul University; Arts and Business Council Chicago; DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center.

Jacqueline E. Lawton received her MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a James A. Michener fellow. Her plays include Anna K; Blood-bound and Tongue-tied; Deep Belly Beautiful; The Devil’s Sweet Water; The Hampton Years; Ira Aldridge: Love Brothers Serenade, Mad Breed and Our Man Beverly Snow. She has received commissions from Active Cultures Theater, Discovery Theater, National Portrait Gallery, National Museum of American History, Round House Theatre and Theater J. A 2012 TCG Young Leaders of Color, she has been nominated for the Wendy Wasserstein Prize and a PONY Fellowship from the Lark New Play Development Center. She resides in Washington DC and is a member of Arena Stage’s Playwrights’ Arena. jacquelinelawton.com

MSZHeadshot-209x300Megan Sandberg-Zakian is a theater-maker based in Somerville, MA. She has served as Associate Artistic Director of the Providence Black Repertory Company (RI) and The 52nd Street Project (NYC), and recently completed a Theater Communications Group “Future Leaders” fellowship at Underground Railway Theater in Cambridge, MA. Megan is a graduate of Brown University and holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College. www.megansz.com

  • Gill Johnston

    Art is a reflection of the truth. As in the Moises Kaufman’s The Laramie Project the truth was known. Ferguson is awash in speculation and establishing a cause to substantiate speculation is neither art nor the truth.

  • http://www.kaypri.com kaypri SheACTSWrite

    This is what it’s all about. Encouraging the Ferguson community (and beyond) to continue to share their voice going forward. There are many Fergusons nationwide. Bravo! Sign me up! #babygirlplay approved!