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LA Writers Center Launches Online Breathe Play Reading Series to Amplify BIPOC Voices


LA Writers Center Launches Online Breathe Play Reading Series to Amplify BIPOC Voices

LA Writers Center presents a free online reading of Strange Fruit Part 2 by Jon Bastian as a part of their Breathe online play reading series, which will live stream on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at beginning September 26 2020 at 11 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 2 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4).

(Strange Fruit Part 1 was live-streamed on August 29th and can be viewed here. LAWC is presenting one reading a month through the end of the year.)

The LA Writers Center is proud to be a diverse organization that has developed new work to amplify BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ stories for almost two decades. But LAWC knows it can do better through an approach that Instead of speaking, listens; Instead of making promises, takes action. With that in mind, LAWC is partnering with HowlRound to present "Breathe," an online play reading series designed to advance these stories.

A tale of the 20th century, Strange Fruit is a non-chronological and kaleidoscopic interweaving of multiple interconnected stories. Ultimately it is the story of Matthew Shepard as he finds his place in American history. When we open Matthew has been brought to the fence where he ultimately dies. While at the fence, he is experiencing the history of other key people who are part of the systemic story of bigotry in America. He meets historical figures such as James Baldwin, Oscar Wilde, Billie Holiday, Walter White, Anne and Abel Meeropol, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg and Mary and Hayes Turner.

As he learns about their history, he is simultaneously learning the role HE plays in our country's history and he, in a way, is taking on the mantle. Crossing lines of gender, race, religion, and sexuality, "Strange Fruit" strives to remind us that, ultimately, our commonality is in being human, and the danger is in focusing upon our differences rather than our similarities. The play tells us that hope is a fleeting thing, and that the advances of one generation can never be taken for granted when removed so easily in the next.

Cast members include: Matthew Fox as Matthew Shepard, Frankie Chuter as Aaron, Matthew Hancock and Donna Simone Johnson as Hayes and Mary Turner, Sarah Scott Davis as Billie Holiday, Jonathan P. Sims as James Baldwin, William Salyers and Maria Nicolacakis as Ann and Abe Meeropol, Shawn MacAulay as Walter White, Susan Rome and David Wilcox as Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Joe Rumi as David Greenglass, and Mark McClain Wilson as Oscar Wilde. Ensemble members include Jasmine Di Angelo, Michael T. Kachingwe, Paul Mischeshin, Reid Robison, John Schumacher, Courtney Sheets, and Bart Tangredi.

Strange Fruit Part 1 written by Jon Bastian, directed by Martin Bedoian and Che'Rae Adams, kicked off the series on August 29th 2020. Strange Fruit Part 2 will be presented on Saturday, 26 September 2020. The rest of the plays in the "Breathe" reading series will be announced shortly. Follow the Facebook page for all updates.

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