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Flyaway Productions Premieres Chapter Two Of Decarceration Trilogy In October

The performance is the second in a planned trilogy of outdoor aerial public art performances addressing the devastating effects of mass incarceration.

Flyaway Productions Premieres Chapter Two Of Decarceration Trilogy In October

Following the cancellation of last year's performances, Flyaway Productions has rescheduled the world premiere of MEET US QUICKLY WITH YOUR MERCY to this fall.

Second in a planned trilogy of outdoor aerial public art performances addressing the devastating effects of mass incarceration, Meet Us Quickly is presented in partnership with the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) and through CounterPulse's curated co-production program.

It will take place on the exterior facades of CounterPulse as well as on the Dahlia Hotel next door, with eight performances at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., Thursday through Sunday, October 14 - 17, and an additional performance at 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 16. All performances are free. For reservations, visit counterpulse.org/mercy.

Meet Us Quickly follows the enormously successful run of The Wait Room, a work that explored the experiences of women with incarcerated loved ones. The Wait Room opened in San Francisco in April 2019 before traveling to the grounds outside of Sing Sing Prison in New York's Hudson Valley in the fall, marking Flyaway's East Coast debut. The third and final installment in Flyaway's The Decarceration Trilogy: Dismantling the Prison Industrial Complex One Dance at Time is slated to premiere in 2022.

While The Wait Room focused on "ceremonies of degradation" -- being turned away at prison visiting hours for the zipper in a child's pants or the underwire in one's bra, having to sit and wait with both feet on the floor at all times, to give just two examples -- Meet Us Quickly brings an intersectional feminist and racial justice framework to explore the failures of our criminal justice system. "Meet Us Quickly asks how Black and Jewish voices, including Jews of color, can amplify the call for racial justice via an end to mass incarceration," said Flyaway Artistic Director Jo Kreiter.

Unfolding in three parts, Meet Us Quickly links the "caging of black bodies" in the United States, from the period of slavery through the current era of mass incarceration, to the dehumanization of Jews that flourished on both sides of the Atlantic throughout much of the 20th century and which is becoming prominent again today with the rise of white nationalism.

Enlisting the support of partner organizations including MoAD, Prison Renaissance and Bend the Arc Jewish Action, Flyaway acknowledges the shared pain of Jewish and African-American histories of race and capture. "As an artist and an activist, I am working to facilitate an opportunity for greater reconciliation between Black and Jewish communities and people living at the intersection of both identities," said Kreiter. "While I don't believe that contemporary anti-Jewish bigotry in the U.S. is equivalent to the structural racism felt by people of color, I want to encourage acts of resistance based on our shared history."

Kreiter's primary collaborator on the project is writer and 2020 Pulitzer Prize Finalist Rahsaan Thomas, currently behind bars at San Quentin State Prison. He is a co-founder of Prison Renaissance, a six-year-old nonprofit that joins artists, educators and activists in support of prison abolition. They correspond via weekly letters and phone conversations, generating content for Meet Us Quickly based on historical research and their own personal experiences.

Additional collaborators include the late composer and Jewish ethnomusicologist Jewlia Eisenberg, who passed away in March; composer Shahzad Ismaily; scenic designer Sean Riley; lighting designer Jack Beuttler; and costume designer Jamielyn Duggan. Dancers include Bianca Cabrera, Clarissa Dyas, Laura Elaine Ellis, Maddy Lawder, Megan Lowe, Sandiya Sexton and Helen Wicks.

Throughout the run of Meet Us Quickly, Prison Renaissance will host an exhibition of visual art by individuals living at San Quentin. The works were curated by Thomas, and will be on display inside CounterPulse's gallery space. Under the auspices of MoAD, they received a virtual showing last fall.

Finally, at the conclusion of each performance, Bend the Arc will lead audience members in a suite of actions designed to inspire citizen participation in efforts to end mass incarceration.

Prior to the premiere of Meet Us Quickly this fall, The Wait Room will tour to Portland, Oregon, June 25 to 27, as part of the annual Boom Festival. Then, from September 24 to 26, The Wait Room will be presented by the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans. Occupying Algiers Point, the historic landing area for enslaved Africans arriving in New Orleans from the 17th to 19th centuries, Flyaway will connect American slavery to present-day mass incarceration.


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