The Justice Theater Project’s New Season – The Woman Empowered!

The JTP holds an annual youth camp, including raising significant funds to provide financial assistance for many children.

Last year, I got introduced to a wonderful theater group in the Raleigh – Durham, NC area, the Justice Theater Project (see my introductory blog (link) about the JTP.) The Justice Theater Project is a social justice theater company whose mission is to produce compelling theater experiences that create community dialogue and give voice to social concerns. And as a diversity consultant who often addresses these same issues, I am a big proponent of transporting people out of their daily lives through the performing arts to give them a fresh prospective on societal issues.

What is particularly unique about the Justice Theater Project is that, in addition to offering various plays, they pair that with pre-show discussions, highlight community organizations, and provide educational opportunities and outreach. It’s theater and whole lot more!

The Justice Theater project has just announced their exciting 2018 – 2019 season, focusing on women empowered, so totally timely given the state of affairs in our country the past few years. This new season is titled “S/HE IS: Becoming Whole,” and will render performances and discussions about the wholeness of women, including people identifying as women, from a positive perspective and not as the stereotypical victim.

“A Doll’s House Remodeled” features Lakeisha Coffey as Nora and Germain Choffart as Torvald

The shows this season include:

October 12 – 28, 2018. A DOLL’S HOUSE by Henrik Ibsen. Directed by JaMeeka Holloway-Burrell. A modern, multicultural, celebrity inspired, selfie-taking, reality TV and social media version of one of the most celebrated classics of female-centric theatre with its then shocking, now progressive final moments.

November 15-18, 2018. Staged Reading. I AM MY OWN WIFE by Doug Wright. Directed by Jackson Cooper. Charlotte von Mahlsdorf was an elegant and eccentric 65-year-old German transvestite, who tells the story of hiding from the Nazis in plain sight as a woman. Winner: 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tony Award for Best Play.

December 14-18, 2018. (6 shows) JTP Annual Holiday Production: BLACK NATIVITY by Langston Hughes. Directed by JaMeeka Holloway-Burrell, Music Direction by Ray Watkins.

February 8-24, 2019. Main Stage Production. MEN ON BOATS by Jaclyn Backhaus. Directed by Duke professor Jules Odendahl-James. Based on the book THE EXPLORATION OF THE COLORADO RIVER AND ITS CANYONS by John Wesley Powell. An all-woman cast portrays Powell, a stately one-armed army major, and his 10-man 1869 expedition as it wends its way in four boats through perilous waters to create the first official map of the region.

April 5-7, 2019. Staged Reading. REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES by Josephina Lopez. Set in a tiny sewing factory in East L.A., the outrageously funny story tells of five full-figured Mexican-American women who are trying to keep their tiny factory from going under. And while they work, and hide from the INS, they talk… about their husbands and lovers, their children, their dreams for the future.

June, 7-23, 2019 JTP’s Main Stage season musical finale: CAROLINE, OR CHANGE by Jeanine Tesori and Tony Kushner. Featuring a virtuosic score by Jeanine Tesori (Shrek The Musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie), it blends blues, gospel and traditional Jewish melodies. In 1963, the Gellman family and their African-American maid, Caroline, live in sleepy Lake Charles, Louisiana. Caroline is drifting through life as a single mother of four working in a service job to a white family.

More information and ticket information can be found at their website, In addition, the website will list other associated activities around the shows, like panel and book discussions.

Media Contact: Melissa Zeph, Executive Producer, (919)215-0889, [email protected]

Web information: General JTP information and online tickets:
[email protected]

Three segments of the LGBT community and suicide

Providing affirming social settings for LGBT elders can help build community, reduce loneliness, and reduce suicide rates. (Photo from the Boston Globe)

Here is the next monthly guest blog from my cousin Brandon Garrick, Masters of Social Work Candidate at North Carolina State University. This blog expands upon his last month’s blog, “Five facts you may not know about suicide, and connection to diversity.” This specific blogs goes into one diversity constituency I work very closely with as a workplace diversity consultant, the LGBTQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning) community.

Suicide can be a difficult and sensitive subject to discuss in detail as it is a problematic social issue that affects all members of society. I have done various research and have attended multiple suicide prevention workshops and there is one major target population that is always discussed when it comes to suicide. The L.G.B.T.Q. (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Questioning) community is at higher risks for suicide then their heterosexual counterpart. I will discuss three specific areas of the L.G.B.T.Q community that is at severely higher risks of suicide.

1. Youth. L.G.B.T.Q youth have high risks of suicide and contemplation of suicide according to multiple research studies. According to the Trevor Project, L.G.B. youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth. In addition L.G.B. youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth. In a national study, 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt,with 92% of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25. For more information on this major area that needs focus, link to the Trevor Project.

2. Rural L.G.B.T.Q individuals. Individuals who identify with the L.G.B.T.Q. community who live in rural areas are at higher risks then L.G.B.T.Q. individuals who live in urban areas. There has been ample research explaining why rural L.G.B.T.Q are at higher risks then their city living counterparts. Research shows that there is generally wider acceptance of LGBTQ people in cities, were there is far less social stigma around sexual orientation. More resources need to be focused on this severely under-served population, made complicated by rural areas often being spread out and difficult to reach compared to concentrated city centers.

3. Older L.G.B.T.Q individuals. Isolation and dealing with multiple physical issues have generally put senior citizens at a higher risk for suicide then younger adults. However the gap is significantly increases for senior members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community. I recently attended a presentation by SAGE (an organization supporting LGBT leaders) that explained why suicide is a major issue for older L.G.B.T.Q members. One issue is the decreased presence of similar individuals within senior living faculties. The L.G.B.T.Q community is already a societal minority, now imagine being older in a senior living with no other L.G.B.T.Q. seniors among you. The importance of having social relationships is vital to fight depression when it comes to getting older. Research indicates that lack of social relationships is a major issue for older L.G.B.T.Q members. Link to SAGE for various resources.

September is National Prevention Month! Make a difference in someone’s life; if you or another individual are feeling suicidal please call the hotline. 1-800-273-8255

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Guest blogger Brandon Garrick is a Masters of Social Work Candidate at NC State University

Brandon Garrick is my second cousin who I enjoy spending a lot if time with. He recently completed his Bachelor of Sociology at North Carolina State University, and has now entered their Master’s Program of Social Work. He worked full time at North Carolina’s Central Prison as a corrections officer while completing his bachelor’s degree, and has a deep concern about the many social issues facing our nation and the world. He will now be a regular guest blogger discussing these various issues.

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NOTE: The Sept 7-20, 2018 issue of qnotes, North Carolina’s bi-weekly LGBT paper, has several article about suicide and the LGBT community.