The White Feather Project

 

is a theatrical play concerning white fragility and cowardice. Devised from scholarly texts, primary sources, and in-person interviews, the community of Ursinus College is the vehicle and incubator for this piece. Performances will be on-campus and in Philadelphia in Spring 2019.

Theatre for Social Change is a powerful tool in disseminating knowledge and evoking empathy in those who can’t otherwise be reached.

Silence is deafening.

Although black students were admitted before his time, Dr. Robert Crigler was the first to graduate from Ursinus College in 1956. Seventeen years later, Deborah C. Bumbry and Carol Lynne Clark would be the first black women to graduate. This was only forty-five years ago.

 

Now and then, white people compose the majority of the students, faculty, and staff at Ursinus College. Now and then, the retention rate among students of color is disproportionately lower than white students. Now and then, the socio-political climate of the United States systemically marginalizes and maims people of color. At the helm of these purists are white people-- politicians and common folk alike. And while the intention may not be to harm, complicity through silence is insidious and ensures these power imbalances stay intact.

Ursinus College does not exist in a bubble. Since is founding in 1869, white people have been at the helm of its socio-political climate. In 2018, the college is "intensify[ing] [its] commitment to diversity and inclusion". If this is true, why is discourse about race discouraged in CIE classes? Why are hate crimes thinly veiled as "racial epithets" in the snow?  Why, after three years of development, is The Discriminatory Acts Policy virtually unchanged? Furthermore, who teaches these classes? Who sends these emails? Who signs on the dotted line? 

White people. Eighty-percent, to be exact. If we “insist that our campus community champion the humanity of all of its members", why aren't the majority speaking up and out loud and clear? 

The White Feather Project  aims to address this cowardice within the frame of racial stress. Cowardice lives in all of us, regardless of race, but the project and its research will demonstrate, from the "top down", how this trait has larger repercussions for marginalized groups-- whether white people intend it to or not.

The White Feather Project holds a mirror to the Ursinus community, but all will be able to see themselves in the data. Through art, we will see how, when, and why we should be brave. 

Quotes pulled from here.

Interview questions here.

Preliminary Timeline 

 

November 

Send calls for dramaturg and actors. Complete reading list.

December

Hire dramaturg. Create frame narrative and outline. Begin blog.

January

Hire stage manager. Hire actors. Begin interviews.

February

Continue and finish interviews. Begin devising/rehearsals. Incorporate production elements.

March 

 Informal reading/sharing with Ursinus Community. Continue rehearsals.

April 

COSA Presentation at Ursinus College. Premiere performance at Ursinus College One-Acts Festival.

 

May

Final performance in Philadelphia. End blog. Finish website resources.