The Clearing - Episode 1 - A Usable Past
"Part 1: A Useable Past"
In 2021, The Public Theater released an audio-only version of Erika Dickerson-Despenza’s play, shadow/land. Alongside that audio play were several podcast episodes of a series called “The Clearing,” that added additional context to the audio production. Now in 2023, shadow/land has come to the in-person stage of The Public, and we are re-releasing the episodes of “The Clearing” as a part of Public Square 2.0, with host Garlia Cornelia Jones bringing some additional context.
"The Clearing," references a space of healing in Toni Morrison's Beloved. In Beloved, the Clearing is a place in the woods where one of the characters, Baby Suggs, held her religious and spiritual gatherings. Baby Suggs called the black formerly enslaved community together to laugh, dance, cry and reclaim their bodies, bodies that had been used in the service of trans-Atlantic slavery. The ancillary episodes like shadow/land provide a space for healing and also call forth Congo Square, which is located at a clearing, apocalypse which is clearing, and the Yoruba deity Oya, who rules hurricanes and tornadoes and is known to clear the way. The Clearing, our ancillary episodes of post-show discussions, honors Toni Morrison and all the great black women writers and healers that have paved the way.
PART 1: A USEABLE PAST
New Orleans has both the legacies of man-made disasters and rich culture traditions. This episode explores how the shadow/land contends with and makes use of the city’s history.
This conversation includes: Soyica Colbert (host), Erika Dickerson-Despenza (playwright), Candis C. Jones (director), Jack Moore (Director of New Artists), Imani Perry (scholar), Cara Page (scholar), and Lauren A. Whitehead (dramaturgical consultant).
Public Square 2.0 credits:
Executive Producer: Garlia Cornelia Jones, Director - Innovation and New Media
Creative Producer: John Sloan III, Ghostlight Productions
Audio Producer: Justin K. Sloan, Ghostlight Productions
Assistant Producer: Emily White - New Media Associate
Graphics by Tam Shell, Art Director - Brand Studio
"Latte” By Sunny Fruit, Artlist.io
“Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man." Written by Oscar II Hammerstein, Jerome Kern. Courtesy of Universal PolyGram Int. Publishing, Inc.
“Come Sunday." Written by Duke Ellington. Courtesy of G. Schirmer, Inc.
“Indian Red." Written by George Landry. Rhinelander Music Inc. and Gulf Coast Music LLC.
SHADOW/LAND: AN AUDIO PLAY
Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza
Directed by Candis C. Jones
Featuring Te'Era Coleman (9-1-1 Caller), Lizan Mitchell (Magalee), Lance E. Nichols (9-1-1 Dispatcher and Caller), Lori Elizabeth Parquet (9-1-1 Dispatcher and Caller), Sunni Patterson (Griot), and Michelle Wilson (Ruth).
Original music composed by Delfeayo Marsalis
Sound Design by Palmer Hefferan
Audio Coordination and Recording Engineering by Will Pickens
Lead Audio Engineering by Black Rose Sound (Izumi Rosas and Chris Morocco)
Audio Engineering by Twi McCallum
Dramaturgical Consultant Lauren A. Whitehead
Creative Content Producer Soyica Colbert
Dialect Coach Dawn-Elin Fraser
Assistant Director and Script Supervisor Chika Ike
Production Stage Manager Kamra A. Jacobs
Stage Manager Fatimah Amill
Produced by The Public Theater
script quote credits:
“My heart is not peripheral to me” - Quote by June Jordan, From the documentary A Place of Rage, directed by Pratibha Parmar (New York, NY: Women Make Movies 1991), Film. Courtesy of June M. Jordan Literary Estate Trust and Kali Films