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.

Theater lab artists at work

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.

Artists from the Project Unspeakable NYC theater lab

Artists from Project Unspeakable NYC theater lab

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.

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