Luisa Bieri, a Cooperative Education faculty member, performed and presented at the Inaugural Conference on Community Theater for Social Justice Action on April 27-28, 2018. The event was organized by a group of young POC activists who transformed their campus activism in South Bend, Indiana into a non-profit, InterAction Inc. Their mission “is to activate and advance young people of color and their counter-narratives to build a more just, inclusive, and equitable society” (https://interactioninc.org/).
At the conference, Luisa met keynote speaker Ntozake Shange, renowned playwright and poet, whose groundbreaking Obie Award-winning play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf (1976), elevated black women’s voices. Here, Luisa is pictured with Shange and her newest work, a bilingual Spanish/English book of poetry, Wild Beauty.
Luisa presented her new work, a solo performance, called Rites. The piece uncovers the story of her great-great-grandmother, who was institutionalized in the Athens state mental hospital from 1899 until her death 50 years later. Following the performance, Luisa discussed her creative practice to explore methods of performance that address trauma and engage in a process towards inter-generational healing. She will be performing Rites at The Foundry Theater on May 30, 2018, in collaboration with the States of Incarceration exhibit at Antioch College.
During the conference all attendees participated in strategy sessions on “Uprooting Anti-Blackness and Racism” led by InterAction. In partnership with the Civil Rights Heritage Center, Indiana University South Bend Women’s and Gender Studies, and Notre Dame’s Show Some Skin, the conference aimed “to create a space for deep strategizing among experts – community theater-makers, radically inclusive theater-makers in traditional theaters, community organizers, artist activists, and others” (https://interactioninc.org/conference/).
“By all accounts, the conference met and exceeded its goals,” says Luisa. “It was a privilege and honor to present my work amongst such inspiring arts activists, who are organizing in the trenches of their communities to envision and create change. As a white woman, I was inspired by InterAction’s bold and effective anti-racism work and look forward to bringing some of what I learned back to Antioch.”