What is Project Unspeakable?
Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy and inspired by James Douglass’ remarkable book, JFK and the Unspeakable (Simon & Schuster, 2010), playwright Court Dorsey and associate writers Stephen Wangh and Debbie Lynangale created the play Project Unspeakable based on historical quotes related to the assassinations of these four pivotal leaders. Since November 2013, over thirty groups around the United States have read or performed the script and engaged in stimulating and vibrant discussion of the ideas presented. See more on the script and past readings.
Thomas Merton, an internationally respected spiritual writer and Trappist monk, wrote in 1965:
“One of the awful facts of our age is the evidence that [the world] is stricken indeed, stricken to the very core of its being by the presence of the Unspeakable…[that] too few are willing to see.”
The Project hopes not only to bring back into focus the inspiring legacies of these four men, but also to shed light on the role of today’s ever-more-powerful ‘National Security State’ as it relates to various lies and cover-ups that too few people are willing to challenge. Ultimately, the goal of Project Unspeakable is to motivate people to demand and work for governmental and corporate openness, transparency, and democratic accountability, which we believe is a prerequisite for effectively addressing the multiple social, political, and environmental crises we currently face.Read more about us...
A Message from Playwright Court Dorsey
Notes from the Project Unspeakable Theater Lab in NYC:
The Project Unspeakable Theater Lab in NYC has officially launched, and I am incredibly impressed and excited by the work of this team of eager and talented creators. The team's enthusiasm for the material was matched only by their creativity and inventiveness, and the ideas they brought to make Project Unspeakable a more dramatic and compelling story.
By the end of my weekend with them, the team had generated twenty or so plot structures for Tenay, and they were still going strong. Of the dozen participants, seven are African-American and six of these are women, with a predominance of younger collaborators. This will help ensure that Project Unspeakable will broaden its appeal, especially to younger and more diverse audiences.
Already, the goal of bridging the gap between older activists and artists like myself and a younger generation of concerned play-makers is being realized. It only remains to build the dramatic structure of this sinewy new relationship into the script and get it mounted for Malcolm X's 50th Assassination Anniversary in Harlem. After that, as Martin Sheen assures me, "It will have a life of its own."
I visited some potential performance spaces in Harlem and also the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Center at the old Audubon Ballroom. I stood in the spot where Minister Malcolm was shot down nearly 50 years ago, in the tidal wave of assassinations that occurred between 1963 - 8. It was very moving to be there. The inclusion of "Project Unspeakable" in the events commemorating Malcolm X in February seems very welcome in the Harlem Community.
I hope you will support our efforts to bring the story of these four assassinations into the public light, so that the truth can be uncovered. We hope that Project Unspeakable can help revive the tremendous movement for peace and justice that they were a part of, and that this movement can help rekindle a hopeful spirit in these dark times. As one woman from the lab told us as we were setting our goals for the script revisions, "I want my hope back!" Working with these amazing artists, I can't help but feel we are one step closer.
Listen to our Supporters
Below are videos of more Project Unspeakable endorsers: Eve Ensler, playwright of The Vagina Monologues; Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 released the Pentagon Papers; former Rep. Cynthia McKinney; Grammy-nominated vocalist of Sweet Honey in the Rock Evelyn Harris; and Abdullah Abdur-Razzaq, a longtime associate and friend of Malcolm X.
What Can I Do?
You can be part of the Project Unspeakable movement, and there are lots of ways to be involved: