This year’s event will feature the stories of slave ship Clotilda and Africatown being brought to life in a short stage highlight titled “An Ocean in My Bones,” developed by playwright and award-winning director Terrence Spivey. The roughly 45-minute one-act highlight is a precursor to the full-length stage play that will premiere in Mobile, February 2024.
The festival will be held at the historic Mobile County Training School(800 Whitley Street) in Africatown. The school was founded by descendants of Clotilda in 1880.The Cleveland Ohio based Spivey, a graduate of Prairie View A & M University with a B.A. Degree in Theatre Arts and is also Artistic Associate of Mobile’s IMANI Community Theater. He is the Artistic Director for Powerful Long Ladder in Cleveland where he once served in the same position for the oldest black theatre in the country, Karamu House, programming over 70 plays for 12 years.“Bringing such a powerful story to life is an honor and a privilege like none other,” said Spivey.
During the festival, we will only have 10 to 15 actors, but the larger stage production will have up to 50. The Clotilda and Africatown ancestors deserve to have their voices heard after so many generations of being ignored and marginalized. It’s time to let them bear witness to the struggles, hardships, and pain, but also the resilience, fortitude, and togetherness that allowed them to make a way out of no way.”
Keynote speaker of the festival will be Dr. Joseph Brown, professor of Africana Studies at Southern Illinois University. He received a Master’s in Afro-American Studies and Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University.“In Africa, the people do not die,” said Dr. Brown. “They send their spirits among us for aid and support. When we need them, they are there. Now, the ancestors gather around us as a cloud of witnesses. Not only do they rejoice in our existence, but they let us know in dreams, conversations and unexpected encounters that we are here for a reason.”
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