This is the fourth post from our new column highlighting the voices and experiences of students of color on Brown’s campus. In this entry, Hayward Leach ’14 recalls his experience in the theater community at Brown.
In 1926, prominent Black poet Langston Hughes wrote: “An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose.” Reading Hughes’ “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” in Introduction to Africana Studies my freshman fall, I remember feeling simultaneously liberated and constrained by the concept of such a freedom. Hughes wrote this article with the intention of freeing the Negro artist to portray his own life, to not shy away from the complexities and potential dirt of his experience. In scholarship and artistic expression, however, I have continued to struggle with this original contradiction.
Do I have a responsibility to study and portray Black life in America? The easy, individualistic answer would be no. Art should be about one’s individual interests. If those interests align with a political agenda, so be it. On my thirteenth birthday, I sat in the corner of my school bus, on a trip to the Museum of Natural History. I don’t remember much about the ride other than the sticky seats, the din of kids voices rising above midtown traffic, and the gray of February that seems to mark a never ending winter. My birthdays always feel like secrets, moments of light built into the dark fabric of the mid-winter sky. On that bus, where no one thought of anything but snow slush and bus games, I relished in my secret. Somewhere along the ride, I scribbled down: “Art is the expression of the soul.”
We are living in dark times. As Brown begins to enter this most trying of periods in the semester–with the riotous celebrations of Spring Weekend behind us and the ominous specter of finals beginning to loom–glad tidings may seem few and far between. In sooth, though the days may be longer and the weather warmer, we are but prisoners; chained to our desks, subsisting on a meager diet of Ratty take-out. These are dark times indeed.
But lo! Enter Brown University Gilbert and Sullivan‘s production of Camelot, a performance destined to uplift you from your dreary existence and fill your world with song and dance.
Monday, February 24:
Event: Celebrate Every Body Week 2014
Time: All day, all week
Location: Various locations
This week, Brown University Health Education has planned a variety of events and activities in honor of Celebrate Every Body Week. In collaboration with Brown Psychological Services, Brown Recreation, Lifespan Hospital, and the Yoga and Mindfulness (YAM) student group, the week will feature various fitness classes, panel discussions, and even a dance party. Check out the Facebook page for a full list of events.
Event: Discussion: Hazing and Initiation at Brown
Time: 8 p.m.
Location: Salomon 203
Join the Brown Political Forum and Delta Tau Fraternity for a discussion about Brown’s policies on hazing and initiation. Free pizza will be served, and this event is open to the public.
Wednesday, February 19:
Event: Writers or Missionaries? Reporting the Middle East
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Location: Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute
Join the GISP “Wiring the Middle East: Nonfiction Coverage and New Digital Frontiers” and Brown Middle East Studies for a conversation with Adam Shatz, Contributing Editor of London Review of Books. This event is free and open to the public.
Thursday, February 20:
Event: The Days Between
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Location: Granoff Center
Check out this new opera by Ben Kutner ’14, directed by Zach Rufa ’14. Can’t make it on Thursday? Don’t worry: there will be 3 other performances on Friday the 21st at 8p.m., and Saturday the 22nd at both 2p.m. and 8p.m. According to the event description, this original production, based loosely on the Arab Spring, “follows four national figures as they weather the power vacuum after their leader’s death – each attempting to ride out on top.”
Lida Winfield performing “In Search of Air.”
Although we are sometimes reluctant to admit it, RISD has cool things going on. One such event is “In Search of Air,” a dance and theatre performance by Vermont dancer, choreographer, and spoken word artist Lida Winfield.
“In Search of Air” chronicles Winfield’s struggles growing up with a learning disability and her ultimately triumphant journey towards literacy, which she achieved in her early twenties. Combining gravitas and humor, Winfield’s piece attempts to explore a group of children thrust to the fringes of society.
“Every child with a behavioral, social, physical or learning disability was tucked in the same room. We were angry children,” Winfield writes on her website.
In typical hipster RISD fashion (although they aren’t as hipster as we are…), this performance piece is interdisciplinary and explores the holes in our ability to communicate, both verbally and nonverbally.
“In Search of Air” is one night only, being performed tonight from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at 226 Benefit Street. Admission is free.