LESSONS IN SURVIVAL

 

If you are looking for information about Lessons in Survival: 1971 in the Vineyard's 2021-2022 Season, please click here.

 


Conceived by Marin Ireland, Peter Mark Kendall, Tyler Thomas, Reggie D. White
Directed by Tyler Thomas
Video Design and Editing by Josiah Davis
Music by Daniel Kluger
Mixed by Daniel Kluger
Production Design by You-Shin Chen
Production Coordinator Clarissa Marie Ligon
Live Streaming and Audio Production Services provided by Five OHM Productions

Performed by The Commissary
With Kyle Beltran, Dan Butler, Helen Cespedes, Adam Chanler-Berat, Kalyne Coleman, Crystal Dickinson, Brandon J. Dirden, Ricardy Fabre, Yonatan Gebeyehu, Peter Gerety, Birgit Huppuch, Marin Ireland, Bill Irwin, Peter Mark Kendall, Nicole Lewis, Kristolyn Lloyd, Sevrin Anne Mason, April Matthis, Nana Mensah, Joe Morton, Deirdre O’Connell, Keith Randolph Smith, Ryan Spahn, Chris Stack, Myra Lucretia Taylor, TL Thompson, Nicole Villamil, Victoria Villier, Reggie D. White
Digital Theatre Experience | Part 1: October 6 - November 29, 2020

How do you talk about 300 years in four minutes? Was it ever so apparent we need this dialogue?” — Lorraine Hansberry, 1964

This country is your problem and it is my problem.” — James Baldwin, 1968

Fueled by the urgency of our present moment, The Commissary, a multigenerational collective of more than 40 ​theatre artists, have come together to reinvestigate the words​ ​of trailblazing artists​ ​and activists ​who survived and created in times of revolution in our country​. Baldwin. Giovanni. Davis. Lorde. Hansberry. Rustin. Hamer. ​In LESSONS IN SURVIVAL, a cohort of actors channel historic conversations, interviews and speeches, listening to original broadcasts on an in-ear feed and speaking exactly what they hear. In bringing these words to new life in the present, they ask what these voices can teach us about our country now and the opportunity for true change that stands before us. How might they propel us to look courageously at the effects of systemic racism, to imagine ourselves outside of its prescriptions, and to create, together, a shared future of collective liberation?



Read the feature on the creators of Lessons In Survival here and check out Jesse Green’s piece on Political Theater in which he referred to Lessons In Survival as “THRILLING!” here.


 

Episodes | Open Rehearsals | Community Conversations

 

EP 1: “Survival Is Not A One Time Decision”
Excerpts of conversations and speeches with Nina Simone (1968), Lorainne Hansberry (1964), and Audre Lorde and Blanche Cook (1982), tackling radicalism, survival, and the role of the artist in times of revolution. (Runtime: 27 minutes)
Featuring: Kalyne Coleman, Nicole Lewis, Deirdre O’Connell, Myra Lucretia Taylor

EP 2: “I’m Trying to Make You See Something”
Dick Cavett hosts a conversation with James Baldwin and Yale professor of philosophy Paul Weiss, where they discuss what it is to be Black in America in 1969. (Runtime: 33 minutes)
Featuring: Dan Butler, Ricardy Fabre, Chris Stack

EP 3: “When You Say Revolution… What Do You Mean?”
Women leaders of the Civil Rights Movement: Angela Davis discusses the role of Communism in the Black Power Movement and breaks down the path to true revolution (1972 and 2008); Georgia Gilmore reflects on organizing the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1979); and Fannie Lou Hamer offers a critical diagnosis of the moral state of America in 1968. (Runtime: 35 minutes)
Featuring: Helen Cespedes, Crystal Dickinson, Ricardy Fabre, Nicole Lewis

EP 4: “The Old Leadership is Dead”
Three different actors take on Bayard Rustin’s 1968 speech “Firebombs or A Freedom Budget”, in which he presents a plan for the redistribution of wealth to the Black American poor. (Runtime: 32 minutes)
Featuring: Kyle Beltran, Yonatan Gebeyehu, TL Thompson

EP 5: “Something is Beginning to Crack”
Maya Angelou speaks with British television host Mavis Nicholson in 1987 about her writing, personal life and growing into courage; James Baldwin speaks with Mavis that same year, during London rehearsals for his play “The Amen Corner”, about the invention of race and the breakdown of the social contract. (Runtime 40 minutes)
Featuring: Marin Ireland, Joe Morton, Deirdre O’Connell, Myra Lucretia Taylor

EP 6: “This Country’s My Problem and Your Problem”
In a 1968 interview turned debate with conservative commentator R.H. Darden, James Baldwin discusses the erupting racial tensions in the country and challenges mythologies of American history and institutions. Twenty-five years later, Toni Morrison speaks with Charlie Rose about the psychology of racism and whiteness as ideology. (Runtime 35 minutes)
Featuring: Dan Butler, Yonatan Gebeyehu, Nana Mensah, Ryan Spahn

EP 7: “Lie To Me”
In part one of this celebrated 1971 interview, Nikki Giovanni and James Baldwin talk about their generational approaches to the movement for Black liberation, and the responsibility of Black men and women to each other. (Runtime 46 minutes)
Featuring: Kalyne Coleman, Crystal Dickinson, Ricardy Fabre, Reggie D. White

EP 8: “To Teach is a Revolutionary Act”
In part two of this intimate 1971 conversation, Nikki Giovanni and James Baldwin discuss their Black literary forebears, and the role of language in liberation. (Runtime 40 minutes)
Featuring: Kyle Beltran, Kalyne Coleman, Nana Mensah, Joe Morton

Live Open Rehearsal 1*
Each week, a group of actors and director Tyler Thomas will explore material not seen in other episodes, working on it and talking candidly about the content and the process. (Runtime: 80 minutes)
Interviews: Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis/Angela Davis (2002); Richard Pryor/Dick Cavett (1985)
Featuring: Crystal Dickson, Brandon J. Dirden, Peter Mark Kendall, Victoria A. Villier, Reggie D. White
In conversation with: Dan Butler, Kalyne Coleman, Marin Ireland, Nicole Lewis, Deirdre O’Connell, Chris Stack

Live Open Rehearsal 2*
Each week, a group of actors and director Tyler Thomas will explore material not seen in other episodes, working on it and talking candidly about the content and the process.
Interviews: Bobby Seale (1968), Bobby Seale/Bob Costas (1992), Ericka Huggins/Angela Davis/JoNina Abron/Barbara Rogers (1989)
Featuring: Adam Chanler-Berat, Brandon J. Dirden, Nicole Lewis, Clarissa Marie Ligon, Kristolyn Lloyd, Sevrin Anne Mason, April Matthis, Reggie D. White

Live Open Rehearsal 3*
Each week, a group of actors and director Tyler Thomas will explore material not seen in other episodes, working on it and talking candidly about the content and the process.
Interviews: Miles Davis (1988), Muhammed Ali/Nikki Giovanni (1971), Joan Baez (1984), Pete Seeger (2006)
Featuring: Kalyne Coleman, Peter Gerety, Jennifer Ikeda, Peter Mark Kendall, TL Thompson, Nicole Villamil

Live Open Rehearsal 4*
Interviews: Lucille Clifton/Sonia Sanchez (2001), Sarah Keys Evans (2019), John Lewis (1963), Paul Robeson (1960)
Featuring: Helen Cespedes, Kalyne Coleman, Nicole Lewis, Kristolyn Lloyd, Peter Mark Kendall, Joe Morton, Keith Randolph Smith
In Conversation with: Tyler Thomas, TL Thompson, Nicole Villamil, Reggie D. White

Live Community Conversation 1**
Conversations with leading artists and thinkers of today. (Runtime: 60 minutes)
Special Guests Colman Domingo, Joe Morton, Lisa B. Thompson
Moderated by Sarah Stern, Reggie D. White
Click to view this conversation!

Live Community Conversation 2**
Conversations with leading artists and thinkers of today.
With special guest Pearl Cleage, Andy Jean, Cody Renard
Moderated by members of The Commissary Crystal Dickinson and Brandon J Dirden
Click to view this conversation!

Live Community Conversation 3**
Conversations with leading artists and thinkers of today.
Special Guests Casey Llwellyn, Michael R. Jackson, Claudia Rankine
Moderated by members of The Commissary Kyle Beltran and TBA
Click to view this conversation!

Live Community Conversation 4**
Conversations and reflections on Lessons In Survival Part 1 and the moments they will most take forward.
Moderated by Marin Ireland, Peter Mark Kendall, Tyler Thomas, Reggie D. White with special guests Crystal Dickinson, Deirdre O’Connell, and TL Thompson
Click to view this conversation!


*Open Rehearsals are ticketed events that provide an inside look into The Commissary’s process of rehearsing and creating LESSONS IN SURVIVAL. Each week, a group of actors and director Tyler Thomas will explore material not seen in other episodes, working on it and talking candidly about the content and the process.

**Community Conversations are free and open to the public and can be viewed on The Vineyard’s YouTube and Facebook pages.


Lessons in Survival is the recipient of a grant from the Venturous Theatre Fund of the Tides Foundation.

LEADERSHIP SUPPORT FOR VINEYARD THEATRE IS PROVIDED BY
The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, The Howard Gilman Foundation, The John and Robyn Horn Foundation, The Laurents/Hatcher Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the New York Community Trust COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund, The Shubert Foundation, the Tournesol Project, and our Board of Directors

PUBLIC FUNDS ARE PROVIDED BY
The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council; The New York State Council on the Arts, and The National Endowment for the Arts

We gratefully acknowledge the support of so many other individuals and institutions in our community.