BAM, New York

I’ve feel like I’ve been in the US for ages. So much so, that I have to think twice about writing the date in UK style, DD/MM/YYYY. Of course, it goes, MM/DD/YYYY, here.

On Thursday, at BAM, we filmed the show for the education department. A wonderful set-up with 4 cameras. Ben Cohen, from BAM was producing it. We had an audience, made up of employees of BAM, numbering about 30. They were wonderfully attentive and generous. We had to repeat a few moments and they gave a seemingly spontaneous response despite the fact that they had seen the sequence before.

Many of these folks were at a BAM gathering hosted by Bryan Dorries the week before. He works with a company called, Theatre of War, who go into arenas after conflict, or potential conflict, and gets the parties to talk to each other. In BAM’s case it was a forum for staff to see a bit of SANCHO, the Prologue, and tell folks what they found truthful in their own lives from the presented piece. It was very powerful and therapeutic for many. They spoke articulately and openly about the way they are seen in the organisation but also in their daily lives. The Black and Hispanic members of staff were the most outspoken, naturally. I was really very impressed with BAM’s commitment to truth and openness. Hats off to them for genuinely caring. That feeling resonates throughout the entire building.

After the show on Thursday night, Bryan, hosted a post-show Q&A. The questions were, as usual, direct, powerful, and sometimes difficult to answer. Like the lady who asked why we still need to talk about the same issues of equality. And why is there still an over-emphasis on black suffering in discussions of history. No easy way to respond to that. My answer has to be the family therapy approach, of talking about our issues one with another. Only then, I believe, can we move on. Having told the truth to each other, and reconciled ourselves to having a future together. Tough, real questions…

The highlight, however, of this talkback, as they call them here, was that I was able to re-tell my story of how I first came across Sancho. Gretchen Gerzina’s book, Black England. Called Black London in the US. And then, joy of joys, I got to introduce Gretchen to the audience as she was there; greet her physically for the first time; and lead her on to the stage to talk about her book! Extraordinary, doesn’t cover it!!

Over the last week at BAM, I have met three Sancho/Black England/Black depictions in art scholars and obsessives. A lecturer at Yale, a researcher and producer at Harvard and for various TV companies, and a Yale based researcher and historian. Next year I plan to speak and meet with all of them to see if there isn’t something we can’t cook up together.

All in all, a more rewarding tour than I could ever have imagined.

I’ll send the final entry of the year in tomorrow and sign off till February and the Chicago Shakespeare Festival, from the 17th to the 20th of that month.

Thanks for staying with the journey so far.