Art in the Age of the Housing Crisis

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America Too is an annual event held by Trinity Rep. Inspired by their involvement in the Every 28 Hours Plays in 2015 — a response to the events in Ferguson, Missouri — America Too seeks to catalyze community conversation about community issues. Prior events have featured plays on DACA and issues of race and policing. This year, playwrights will collaborate with Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE) and community members about the rapidly changing neighborhoods in Providence.

“We want this process to be about the artists in conversation with the community,” says Joe Wilson, Jr. “It’s not about being a photo-op, it’s about building trust with the community and communities that have felt disenfranchised.” He’s the creator and driving force behind America Too. Playwrights will have four workshops with community members who have felt the impact of changing neighborhoods in PVD. They will seek input from longtime residents and newer arrivals, seeking to provide spaces for them to flourish while being respectful. “We’re not trying to tell people what to write, what to respond to, what to feel, we’re simply here as a microphone, and as a mechanism to use art-making to bring these issues to the forefront.”

Trinity Rep got involved with DARE through ticket exchange, and DARE was looking for a way to raise awareness. America Too has had an overwhelming turnout in years past, both in terms of audience and actor participation. “What I’m most proud about is that groups like DARE are now coming to us because they trust us again,” says Joe. “Oftentimes when you have traditional organizations that have not been in the community in an active way, there is a certain level of distrust. Especially when those organizations, on face value, have not been as diverse as they should be, in terms of race and class.”

The performance of the short plays will take place on October 22, and there will be a community discussion on the future of housing and affordability in Providence after the performance. The workshops are just starting at the time of this writing.

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