The Justice Theater Project – Societal Impact Through the Performing Arts

From “A Soldier’s Play,” a murder mystery set in a 1944 desegregated army base in Louisiana. (Photo Courtesy of The Justice Theater Project)

Recently I have been introduced to a special gem here in the Raleigh – Triangle NC area – The Justice Theater Project (JTP.) Their tagline is “Celebrating thought-provoking, entertaining and inspiring theater since 2004.” The JTP has produced quality entertainment that addresses a wide range of issues of social concern as well as giving area non-profit groups free admission to shows and providing several youth summer summer theater camps with tuition assistance so all can participate!

As a diversity consultant, I feel the performing arts can be a powerful medium to address issues such a racism, homophobia, aging, economic inequality and more. Sometimes people need to be transported outside themselves and their daily lives to see something on stage or hear something in music that can communicate to them much better than a written editorial or a political debate.

Captain Charles Taylor was quite displeased when African-American Captain Richard Davenport was sent to Louisiana to investigate the murder of a black officer. (Photo courtesy of The Justice Theater Project)

Recently, I published the blog reviewing the book “Divided We Stand – Racism in America from Jamestown to Trump,” which chronicles the many forms of racism present within the USA from our founding days up to current times. I got plenty of comments debating if racism truly exists today in the US and asking me about racism against whites, as well as calling me a few names and using cuss words. Perhaps if some of these detractors saw JTP’s latest play “ A Soldier’s Play,” a murder mystery set in a 1944 desegregated army base, they may think differently about racism, internalized oppression and white privilege.

Blogs I published earlier this year about diversity and inclusion being promoted through the performing arts include:
“Promoting Diversity and Inclusion Through Bluegrass Music,” about an innovative annual concert called “Shout and Shine” of diverse Bluegrass musicians. This celebration came about in 2016 as a direct response to North Carolina’s oppressive HB2 “bathroom bill” discriminating against our LGBT citizens.
“A great diversity experience – Theater Breaking Through Barriers” about enjoying an off-Broadway play in New York City which featured actors with a wide range of disabilities.

The JTP’s current 2017 – 2018 season is titled “Equity and Identity” and will address issues such as racism, homophobia and classism. Though my diversity consulting practices covers all areas of diversity, my deep area of expertise is LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender), so I am looking forward to their February play “Bent” which is set in 1940’s occupied Berlin and confronts the persecution of the marginalized, particularly homosexuals.

Please seriously considering supporting the work this wonderful organization does in our community through sponsorship or becoming a season subscriber – details on the JTP website.

And if you are one of my blog readers from outside the area, perhaps see if there is a similar theater company in your community, or perhaps consider starting one!

Final “Get Up” Blog of the Year – Summary and Links to my entire “Get Up” Series

As a long time figure skating fan and enthusiast, and now more recently as an aspiring adult competitive figure skater myself (yep – started at age 59,) I was truly enthused about US Figure Skating’s “Get Up” campaign. The main theme is that, in all aspects of our lives, we may fall, but the more times we get up and persevere, the stronger we become. And in late October, US Figure Skating distributed this exciting video highlighting the many varied accomplishments of the “Get Up” Program since its launch a year ago. Link to the 4 minute video below.

Figure Skating is a tough sport! (link to article) It may look smooth and glamorous, but those falls on that hard ice are brutal to the body and soul. But there is a lesson here that we can apply to our personal, athletic and even business lives – that when we fall, instead of just lying there feel sorry for ourselves, we need to pick ourselves up, learn from our mistake or from the challenge we were presented, and continue toward our goal.

So I was very glad to write a monthly series focused on the theme of “Getting Up.” Here are short summaries with links to each of the series.

In January, I wrote the introductory blog Introduction to the “Get Up” theme with figure skating examples, including famous skaters and regular recreational skaters.

In February and April, I featured adult skaters who have gotten up from serious illnesses and injuries. It often takes adults much longer to recover, so these stories from adult skaters are truly inspirational. Links to : Stories of Adult Figure Skaters “Getting Up” After Illness and Injury, part 1 and part 2.

In March I wrote about getting up from career and vocational falls with four short inspiration stories of how these people “got up” to move on after falls and troubles in their vocational lives.

In May, in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, my May “Get Up” Blog was “Getting Up after Considering or Attempting Suicide.” Often greatly stigmatized, people suffering with this issue can indeed get up and move on to whole and satisfying lives.

In June, I wrote In “Getting Up from from loneliness and isolation through finding community” where I share the inspiring story of adult figure skater Amanda McGowan find a community through skating.

For July / August – – In “Getting Up from a Life of Hiding and Deception,” my friend Jim shares about “Getting Up” and changing from old patterns of secrecy and deception to living a more productive, honest, rich authentic life as a proud gay man.

In September, I dealing with: “Getting Up from Nay-sayers”, about how to deal with one of the most insidious detractors keeping us from achieving our goals – those negative people who love to tell us what we are not able to do.

My October Get Up Blog – an interview with Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz who has written a wonderful series of books about all kinds of figure skaters, famous and no-so-famous, who all have “get up” stories. Mine is even included in her latest book!

I plan on now closing this series, but if people send me ideas for 2018 I will be glad to continue writing.