Kellogg Grant Funding in Norfolk beginning February 1, 2019
Norfolk State University: “Changing the Racial Narrative: Using Drama to Heal Historic Divisions in Norfolk, VA” (Norfolk): $16,000
This request is for funds to support a two-part project using drama to explore the history of race in Norfolk, Virginia with a special focus on public housing in the St. Paul’s neighborhood. Faculty from Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University, and Virginia Wesleyan University will lead Norfolk Public School students in “close readings” of three contemporary plays, all dealing in some way with race and racial division. The three plays are Choir Boy by Tarell McCraney; The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison; and Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson.
Students will then attend performances of the plays and participate in post-performance discussions of the issues they raise. They will conduct interviews with residents of three public housing communities within the St. Paul’s neighborhood, research the history of public housing and urban renewal in Norfolk, and participate in the writing of a new play being developed as part of New Calvary Baptist Church’s MAAFA play-writing initiative, which in turn is part of a nationwide MAAFA . Maafa is a Kiswhili word meaning “terrible tragedy” that is to be overcome and commemorated. The proposed project builds on the MAAFA play that has already been performed several times locally as well as on a new Public Works Virginia Initiative being undertaken by Virginia Stage Company, who will also assist in the play-writing process. The result will be a new “episode” to be “inserted” into an existing play and that can also be performed as a separate, free-standing work.