WE WEAR THE MASKS
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT PROJECT
Blackberry Productions (BP) was created to give voice to the voiceless and bring the stories of African Americans to the mainstream. Central to our evolution is BP's pioneering work in Arts-in-Education. BP has created arts-in-education programs in numerous public schools and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) that enhanced learning and social development for people of all ages. This work has inspired BP's roster of original productions and distinguishes the company's new play development process. A fixture in Harlem’s cultural community, BP remains committed to our core mission while adapting to the changing needs of the Harlem neighborhood it serves.
Currently, BP is developing a docu-drama entitled, We Wear the Masks. This production is being crafted to address the current fear, pain, and unrest we are experiencing in West Harlem from the COVID-19 pandemic, the deaths of unarmed African Americans at the hands of police which have sparked historic protests for social justice, and the long-term tensions between the police and the community. The production will consist of original monologues from the perspectives of both law enforcement and youth from the community.
The project is a three-pronged intervention strategy designed to build trust and facilitate reconciliation as critical steps toward achieving sustainable social and criminal justice transformation in West Harlem. As police reforms are enacted, laws change and the COVID-19 virus begins to be contained, facilitated interaction between disparate groups can be instrumental in stimulating ground-breaking dialogue that will bring protestors, police and residents out of isolation and into a new context where mutual respect and cooperation become the norm.
Briefly outlined, We Wear the Masks (WWTM) will include a series of specially designed workshops for young people and police officers. The creation of educational materials for these workshops will be developed and shared with other educators in schools and CBOs. One-on-one interviews with officers and youth participants will be the foundation of an original performance piece which will be presented to the larger community via YouTube. Another vital component to expanding the project's impact will be the creation of an interactive website where residents of West Harlem can come together to exchange their own stories and engage in collaborative problem-solving similar in fashion to our (WWTM) storytelling website.
Please stay tuned for updates regarding (WWTM). Your financial support is always appreciated.
Check back soon for updates.
Photos by Michael J. Palma