Request for Proposals from Scholars, Poets, Thinkers, Analyzers and Examiners to Observe and Write about the TEAM’s “Reconstruction (Still Working but the Devil Might Be Inside)”

The TEAM is commissioning 3 independent writers (scholars and/or creative) who identify as Black, Mixed-Race, or as a Person of the Global Majority, to witness, analyze and critique the process of creating our production Reconstruction (Still Working but the Devil Might Be Inside), including our attempts to create a pro-Black space within a white-led institution, and to decolonize our practice and create a genuinely organic, “horizontal”, and creatively verdant room comprised of Artists of Color and white-identifying artists.

Reconstruction (Still Working but the Devil Might Be Inside) is a new theatrical work with a live musical score about different forms of intimacy — including but not limited to interracial intimacy between Black-identifying and white-identifying individuals, self-intimacy, and Black interiority — within the historical and present-day context of a violently anti-Black United States. Our goal is to make and tour a work that is as useful to racially diverse audiences as the process has been to us as individuals and as a company.

Making Reconstruction

Inspired by Hortense Spillers’ statement “Without freedom, love and intimacy don’t matter,” Reconstruction will look at attempts for genuine INTIMACY in the United States, particularly between Black peoples, between white peoples, and within relationships that seek to bridge the binary. Reconstruction will unfold in a series of interlocking chapters, each focused on a different question of intimacy in the context of different relationships: It will also ask whether Black and white individuals can share true intimacy in the USA? If so, how? Should that even be a goal?

This work is being built by 23 artists aged 27-96, 14 of whom are artists of Color and 9 of whom are white-identifying. It is being co-directed by Rachel Chavkin and Zhailon Levingston and collectively edited by a self-selected “Weaver Committee” of 8 artists (6 POC artists and 2 white-identifying). We are creating Reconstruction via our consensus-driven, horizontal writing process that involves group research and the generation of material via improvisation and writing, with creative prompts offered by any member of the ensemble. We began development in March 2018 with an “Undoing Racism” workshop facilitated by Milta Vega-Cardona from the People’s Institute of Survival and Beyond. We have since contracted Milta as our Process Chaplain, and she has been integral in helping us create a room rooted in anti-racist and anti-colonial practices. She works to ensure that the artists of Color leave the room as whole as when they entered it, and helps us form daily rituals, such as ending everyday with constituency groups.

We plan to premiere the work at the Round House Theatre in Fall 2022, pending the state of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want the work to be moving, funny and provocative. We also want it to be useful to racially diverse audiences in thinking about intimacy through the lens of racial analysis. We plan, in partnership with presenters and our Process Chaplain, to facilitate anti-racism workshops and town halls alongside the presentation of the work.

For more information on the process of creating Reconstruction, we invite writers to watch this video conversation “Finding Intimacy in the Reconstruction Room: The role of our Process Chaplain”.

What are we looking for?

Three writers who identify as Black, Mixed-Race, or as a Person of the Global Majority, including at least one writer who identifies as part of the African Diaspora, to track our progress from here forward in creating a verdant, horizontal, and pro-Black development process and subsequent production. Together with the writers, we would work to ensure their independence in witnessing, analyzing, and critiquing both what is successful and unsuccessful about our attempts to de-colonize ourselves and our institution. While the racial makeup of the artistic company of Reconstruction is majority Black and Artists of Color, it is important to note that the organization of the TEAM is still largely white-led. We will make the writers’ work available to the wider field by partnering with relevant publications, with the goal that it will be of use to other institutions and ensembles, as well as provide value in our continued work. Our primary interest is in partnering with publications accessible to the majority of theatre practitioners (e.g. American Theatre and HowlRound) but are also interested in collaborating with academic journals beyond the theatrical field. We believe that our experiences – successes and challenges – might have implications and applications beyond our field, as historically white-dominant institutions across disciplines seek to create more inclusive environments at a minimum and beyond that to work seriously to center the voices of Black and Indigenous Americans, and People of the Global Majority.

We would like the writers to observe full-company development on Reconstruction moving forward. This will include residencies in the New York City area, as well as other cities such as Santa Monica, CA; Chapel Hill, NC; and Washington DC. Full company development is currently virtual with plans for work in Montgomery, AL in November 2021. Ideally, all writers would observe all or part of all residencies and future stages of the project, but with flexibility to account for scheduling challenges. The TEAM has partnered with the COVID-19 Theater Think Tank to create rigorous safety and testing protocols to ensure safe work during the pandemic.

The TEAM is looking for writers whose research and/or creative interests may include but are not limited to:

  • African American Literature, Film and Cultural History
  • Slavery, Emancipation, and Reconstruction
  • Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies
  • Ethnicity, Race, and Indigenous Studies
  • Critical Racialization
  • Race, Class, and Gender
  • American History
  • Cultural Anthropology

Writers will each create a journal-style piece that explores the successes and failures of our process, to be published at a date to align with the premiere of Reconstruction (tentatively scheduled for fall, 2022).

Compensation

When observing the work of the Reconstruction ensemble, the TEAM offers a weekly salary of $750, on a most-favored-nations basis with the rest of the ensemble.

For the work of writing a critical analysis of the TEAM’s process in creating Reconstruction, we offer a fee of $3,000.

About the TEAM

The TEAM is a 16-year-old internationally recognized Brooklyn-based theatre ensemble. Our mission is to collaboratively create new work about the experience of living in the USA today. Combining aggressive athleticism with emotional performances and intellectual rigor, our work crashes characters from history and mythology into modern stories, drawing unexpected connections across time to touch the raw nerve of the current moment. This process has often brought us to different parts of the US, from post-housing crash Las Vegas in 2010 to politically divided Southern Appalachia in 2016. For Reconstruction, we’ll travel to Montgomery, AL for a residency at Alabama Shakespeare Festival where we’ll work and meet with the Equal Justice Initiative. 

Though we are led by Tony Award-winning Artistic Director Rachel Chavkin, we have been slowly working towards a model where authority is decentralized and our resources are invested into Collective Visioning. This has led to the abolishment of our “membership” structure: we are in thrilling new territory as a (re)emerging collective led by a mixture of founding artists and new TEAM artists from the Reconstruction company. We are dreaming about care committees, family-based structures, and other models to question how power is distributed and equity maintained throughout our institution and programming. This process has been intentionally slow, as we convene meetings facilitated by facilitators, including Reconstruction Process Chaplain, Milta Vega-Cardona.

FOR INTERESTED WRITERS: Send letter of interest and curriculum vitae or resume to Alexandra Lalonde, Producing Director at alexandra@theteamplays.org by June 30, 2021.

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