BeHeard’s Social and Racial Justice Artists Take Art to Martha’s Vineyard
OAK BLUFFS — A group of racially diverse performance artists hope to engage Martha’s Vineyard audiences this week with two arts events dedicated to the cause of social justice and anti-racism.
Beheard.world, a Boston-based collective of performers and filmmakers founded in 2014 by Anna Myer and Jay Paris, will present the award-winning documentary “Invisible Imprints” at the Tabernacle on Thursday, then on Saturday the cast of the film presented a performance titled “Suite Talk” at the Union Chapel.
The events address and hope to start conversations about racism and how each person experiences and defines the word in their own way. The collective of dancers, singers, poets and instrumentalists have created their own specific ways to express their ideas about racism, their experiences, the past and the future.
“We do our best to bring these performances to black communities so they can feel heard,” Myer said. “Our focus is also specifically on white communities; they also need to hear and join in the conversation.
The Beheard.world website describes the group as a “creative exchange for social change”, with members “forging critical conversations about racial justice through the arts”. The group has endeavored to do this through performances, films, workshops, and youth programs, primarily in the Boston area. Their scope now extends to the vineyard.
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“The Union Chapel is a beautiful venue, it has a real history of black and white communities thriving together and we hope to get mixed audiences for both of our events,” said Myer, who also choreographed the performance.
A former Boston Ballet dancer, she founded Anna Myer and Dancers in 2001 and then she and Paris, her husband and a filmmaker, co-founded Beheard.world in 2014 to focus on creating mixed genre pieces on social justice themes. for the stages and the public. the spaces.
The Art of Performance ‘Suite Talk’
As a group of 12 performers and a saxophonist take turns on stage, “Suite Talk” brings together a variety of creative genres. Poets reflect on the history of slavery and racism; the singers express their vision of the world and the harsh reality of the present; and dancers express pain and pain but also hope and dreams for a better world through movement on stage.
The goal of the artists of various races is to establish the idea that racism can only be solved through love, unity and by walking together through every challenge. Racism is not a problem that one group of people can solve, Myers said, “We bleed the same blood, we breathe the same air and we all share the same world.”
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“It’s really about taking people from different walks of life and seeing what can happen,” she said. The performance piece “depicts the meeting of all our differences but emphasizes that when we come together, let’s look at what we can do together. It is about shared love and a definitive experience.
The performance will be followed by a debate with the public.
The movie “The Invisible Footprints”
The new hour-long feature to be screened on Thursday depicts the emotional journey 12 artists went through while touring their show “Invisible: Imprints of Racism” from Jackson, Mississippi, to Chicago along what is considered as the Great Migration Trail for millions of African Americans in the 20th century. In the words of the filmmaker Paris, “History through the eyes of the interpreters”.
During the tour of these historic areas, cast members met with civil rights leaders, visited civil rights sites, and performed for people who have lived through history.
“I was documenting the impact of those learnings on the performers,” said Paris, a former magazine editor, editor and author who now produces and directs documentary films. “As their eyes were opened to the unknown facts of the story, the performance became more and more touching and moving.”
Although the film aims to better understand the story, Paris said it was also about starting conversations with the audience to allow everyone to share their own experiences.
“Whenever people hear the word ‘racism,’ they tend to avoid the conversation, but those conversations need to happen and we encourage that space in our performances,” he said.
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The film premiered earlier this year and won an award at the LA Sun Film Fest 2022, won “Best Short Film of the Season” at the IndieX Film Fest in Los Angeles and was officially selected for the Miami Indie Film Awards and SR Socially Relevant New York Film Festival.
Myers said that the most fascinating aspect of these artistic events for her is how many people stay afterwards to meet the cast and crew and participate in the shared experiences. These conversations are a powerful source of inspiration for their work, she says.
“I think art has the power to open your heart. When that happens, people feel vulnerable and safe to talk and share,” she says.
To find out what Beheard.world has to say
What: Screening of the film “Invisible Imprints” and multi-genre performance “Suite Talk”
When: film at 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 7; show at 7 p.m. on Saturday July 9
Where: Oak Bluffs; movie at the Tabernacle, 80 Trinity Park; show at Union Chapel, 55 Narragansett Ave.