Scene and Heard

Dear Friends of Hartford Stage,

Your daddy wanted you to be everything he wasn't… and at the same time he tried to make you into everything he was. I don't know if he was right or wrong… but I do know he meant to do more good than he meant to do harm. He wasn't always right.

Fences, August Wilson

I know you're no worse than most men but I thought you were better. I never saw you as a man. I saw you as my father.

All My Sons, Arthur Miller

Wendell Wright and Rob Riley in Fences (2007). Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

As I write to you Father’s Day is almost upon us. And when I think of fathers, and the complexities of our families, I think of plays. I’ve always turned to the theatre, and to its artists, to help me make meaning of my life and give shape to my emotional experiences in the world. Art, true art, is there to prepare us for the great moments in our lives, and give us a sense of who and where we are. This is especially true at times of transition, of loss, of conflict. We are of course in such a moment now.

Scene and Heard: LIVE! has given us the opportunity to create a space for dialogue, conversation and imagination. I wish we were together listening to a play, but at least through this medium we’re able to connect and expand our vision of what is in our world, and who is in our community. Last week, I was grateful to be joined by University of Hartford student Jerry Hamilton as a co-host. Together we welcomed James Lecesne, who has had an impact nationally and globally through his artistry and activism, and local artistic leaders and activists Kamora Herrington and Jasmin Agosto. Together we held a wide-ranging conversation about the ways the theatre has been shaped by and continues to be transformed by members of the queer community. Central to that conversation was the gift of imagination, the need to see the future of our art form and our city in a more equitable and just reality.

That takes a leap of faith right now. But I’ve always had faith in the theatre as a force of good and change in the world. And I must have faith in parenting (as flawed as we all are), hoping that the next generation will do better than we did. August Wilson and Arthur Miller are but two of the many artists who’ve tackled the complexities of parenting, of fatherhood, of the microcosm of society that is the nuclear family.

On next week’s episode, we will have a special evening centered on Fatherhood, but more specifically what it means to be a Black father in America—and gratefully we will be again in dialogue with neighbors who are doing inspiring work.

I welcome you to the Fatherhood Manologues, created in a partnership between My People Clinical Services, HartBeat Ensemble, and the University of Saint Joseph. Founded by Abdul-Rahmaan I. Muhammad, Executive Director of My People Clinical Services, Fatherhood Manologues holds space for men, predominantly men of color, to come together through discussion and artistic expression crafting "Moth-style" monologues reflecting on their experiences as fathers. Over the course of many weeks, Abdul and the members of the group, shared their stories together and then crafted individual monologues, helped shaped by my colleague, theatre director Godfrey Simmons of HartBeat Ensemble.

The intersection of personal story and artistic craft can show us how transformative theatre can be on an individual—and in turn—a community.

Next week join Abdul, Godfrey, Steven Raider Ginsburg from the Autorino Center at the University of Saint Joseph, as well as members of the Fatherhood Manologues to hear their stories as we continue having faith in the theatre, and in each other.



Our Guests Next Week on Scene and Heard: LIVE!

Abdul-Rahmaan I. Muhammad (Executive Director of My People Clinical Services)

Abdul-Rahmaan I. Muhammad (Executive Director of My People Clinical Services)

Godfrey Simmons (Artistic Director, Hartbeat Ensemble)

Godfrey Simmons (Artistic Director, Hartbeat Ensemble)

Steve Raider-Ginsburg (The University of Saint Joseph)

Steve Raider-Ginsburg (The University of Saint Joseph)

And members of

Steve Raider-Ginsburg (The University of Saint Joseph)

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