Wednesday, May 31, 2017

THE IMPACT of THE TULSA RACE RIOT OF 1921 on our WERKz

20 YEARS AGO TODAY… 
…Jerome and I were 2 youngish, greenish aspiring musical playwrights hard at work on our very first book musical, “A Song of Greenwood” based on the a topic that has always resonated very deeply in our souls, the events surrounding the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. Our storytelling work has taken us to many different places in the last two decades but we’ve never strayed far from the topics of exploring America’s difficult racial history and the internal and external journey of the young black male. We have chosen to stay rooted in Tulsa as our home base because we know that the richness of this historic, blood-soaked, oil-saturated soil enables our creative ideas to gestate and bloom in a unique and percipient way. The Tulsa Race Riot history has woven itself into our work, our lives, and our souls. 

Big S/O to Shari Tisdale, Frances Jordan-Rakestraw,  Mechelle BrownHannibal B. Johnson, Eddie Faye Gates, Dr. Scott Ellsworth, Dr. John Hope Franklin, Chuck Cissel, Cindy Driver, Carmen Pettie, Greenwood Cultural Center, and all those who gave us the support and the platform to spread our wings with this musical. A huge thanks as well to the hundreds of cast & crew members who helped us bring the show to life in 1998 & 2001.
When the foremost historian of the Riots, Dr. Scott Ellsworth, called “A Song of Greenwood” “Tulsa’s most effective effort yet to heal the wounds of the 1921 Riots,” we were not only honored, but we truly felt the weight of that mantle. Every several years, we pull the musical out again and do a round of rewrites based on the knowledge we’ve gained in our years working under the tutelage of the great Broadway luminary Stephen Schwartz. Our continued efforts to create a highly entertaining & well-crafted work of musical theatre which adds just the right balance of human Truth and overarching reflection are ongoing. We have long hoped to stage a Broadway-quality Centennial Anniversary version of the show in 2021. The workload and expense of such an undertaking are monumental and honestly, it was beginning to look unattainable… until we learned a few weeks ago that someone had been going to bat for us (totally without our knowledge) trying to secure some funding to make it possible. It is still far from certain whether we’ll be able to mount the show in 2021 or not, but this level of support from our Tulsa family is a beautiful testament to the best qualities of our fellow Tulsans! 
We’ll keep you informed on the future of "A Song of Greenwood," meanwhile, our LoJoLab is overflowing with those odd magical and mystical “development” trappings of several new projects, including another piece directly related to Tulsa’s 1920’s history, "HotFoot" - a unique Silent Comedy short film starring superstar dancer Charles "Lil Buck" Riley.  
PLEASE spend some time over the next 48 hours to look into the history of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921!!!

"History is for human self-knowledge... the only clue to what man can do is what man has done.  The value of history, then, is that it teaches us what man has done and thus what man is."
- R. G. Collingwood 



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