In the days immediately following November’s shock election, pundits across the media landscape, responding to a rising chorus of “Not My President,” admonished Americans to give Trump a chance. We need Trump to succeed, they said, because we need our country to succeed. The political class was asking those of us who felt his hate, his race-baiting and his demeaning of human dignity to give him, our abuser-elect, a chance. As protests snowballed across the country, John Legend perfectly articulated why so many of us had no choice but to react.
“We hear him [Trump] questioning the citizenship of the first black president and we hear him calling Mexican rapists and murderers that are coming into the country and he is saying he wants to ban Muslims from the country. We hear all that and we can’t get past that.”
The Irondale Ensemble, a 34-year old theater organization in the heart of Brooklyn’s Fort Greene, isn’t getting past it either and in a heroic effort to continue the fight against “normalization,” they have, for the month of March, suspended their normal programming and are presenting instead a curated series of short plays, readings, films and discussion called NOT NORMAL: Art In Resistance In The Time Of Trump.
“It grew out of all the marches, demonstrations and pop-up protests that have occurred since Trump’s inauguration, beginning of course with the Women’s March,” says Jim Niesen, Artistic Director of the Irondale Ensemble. “There’s a fear expressed that the outrage may be fading and we need to be reminded not to let up.”
With this starting point, the Irondale team went into action, reaching out to Brooklyn’s community of artists for works that opened-up new avenues of response and resistance to the ever-increasing threats and fears generated by this new administration’s policies.
For example, on Friday, March 17th, in a program called Yearning to Breathe Free, produced by Irondale Ensemble member Sam Metzger, four works tell stories about immigrants and include the short plays No Sanctuary, Theater of the Oppressed, and 16 Bars as well as excerpts from the webseries Three Trembling Cities. Following the films, a short panel, with a representative from BAJI (Black Alliance for Just Immigration) and the actors from Three Trembling Cities, will talk about some of the issues explored with the audience.
Niesen, reflecting on the energy and artistry of the programmed works, understands full well the powerful role that art can play. “Good art presents us with choices. It challenges us. It appeals to the better angels of our nature as the better way to redefine and refocus America.”
Join the Irondale Ensemble as it appeals to the better angels of our nature in what promises to be a dynamic, thought-provoking series of performances. For information about the varied programs NOT NORMAL offers and specific dates and times go to www.irondale.org.
Admittance is free although a suggested $10 donation would be greatly appreciated.
85 South Oxford, Brooklyn, NY
718-488-9233 (near all subway at Barclay Center/C Lafayette Street/G Fulton Street)