Open Forum

Black Stories/Social Justice Devising Material

  • 1.  Black Stories/Social Justice Devising Material

    Posted 3 days ago
    Any suggestions for source material from which to devise on the topics of the Black experience and/or social justice in general? I'm more than open to banks of stories, historical archives, any specific events that might be more obscure, etc.
    I'm really hoping to dig into devising with some of my more advanced students this year. Thanks!

    Drew Whitley
    D. W. Daniel High School
    Central, SC

  • 2.  RE: Black Stories/Social Justice Devising Material

    Posted 2 days ago
    Edited by Suzanne Katz 2 days ago
    About this Collection | Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938 | Digital Collections | Library of Congress

    Also, check for narrative collections at your local historical societies.  If you are interested in stories of the Great Migration, read  The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson.

    Suzanne Katz
    Washington DC

  • 3.  RE: Black Stories/Social Justice Devising Material

    Posted yesterday
    Ragtime would be an excellent musical to read as a class and discuss the black/immigrant experience in America at the turn of the 19th century.

    Kathryn Chapin
    Theater Director/Social Studies Teacher
    Teton County Schools
    Jackson WY

  • 4.  RE: Black Stories/Social Justice Devising Material

    Posted 22 hours ago
    I've always wanted to adapt The Woman in the Snow by Patricia McKissack. It is a beautiful ghost story with an embedded narrative of Southern racism in bus-riding and driving. You can find it in her award-winning collection of short stories The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural. Always envisioned it as very physical a story-theatre ensemble piece, but I am going to look at it again and see if it would work in the DL environment.

    Janet Borrus
    Santee Education Complex
    Los Angeles CA

  • 5.  RE: Black Stories/Social Justice Devising Material

    Posted 17 hours ago


    I recommend N by Adrienne Pender. It is the story of the historic feud between Charles Gilpin, the first African-American to appear on Broadway, and Eugene O'Neill over the use of the N-word in Emperor Jones. The role gave Gilpin his first big role and also destroyed his career. Also, She'll Find Her Way Home by Valetta Anderson, a family drama in which skin color threatens a budding young romance. It's based on the African-American founders of Mound Bayou, Mississippi right after the Civil War.  

    This is a historical and dramatic representation of the African-American experience. 

    Julie Danao-Salkin
    University of Miami
    Miami FL

  • 6.  RE: Black Stories/Social Justice Devising Material

    Posted an hour ago
    You can tell by my photo that I am a white woman, and I willingly hand the microphone to any Black person on this matter, but I hope you will keep in mind that many students will be traumatized by the whole experience of being trapped at home, possibly knowing multiple people who have died of Covid-19, and watching all of these videos of Black people dying.  While they might need to talk and process as a group what they have seen, they might not benefit from exploring and inhabiting contemporaneous characters going through traumatic experiences.

    It might be good to step back in time, perhaps to the Civil Rights Movement, or even earlier.  If I were still teaching--I retired in June 2019--I believe I would have students explore oral histories and either stitch together monologues from the histories or write monologues based on the source material there.

    If you search for "oral histories..." then add anything, you will find plenty of material.  Many of them have been transcribed.

    I searched under "Library of Congress civil rights oral history" and found an astonishing collection.  There were white allies during the Civil Rights movement, so performance material would not be limited to Black students.

    Many issues of "The Crisis" magazine, founded in 1910, are online.

    Since performances for the foreseeable future will need to be via Zoom, or something similar, it seems a great time to devise theatre pieces of monologues.  I wish you all kinds of success!

    C. J. Breland
    Retired Theatre Arts Educator
    Asheville NC