The Other Members of the Choir: Meet the Citizens of Something Moving
As rehearsals for Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard by Pearl Cleage get into full swing, our cast members share stories about their learnings and takeaways so far from this new work process. In telling a story about the power of individual action for the collective betterment of a community, we wanted to know: what moves them about Something Moving?
Want to know more? You’ll have to see Something Moving to dive deeper into citizens’ stories and meet everyone – because everyone’s stories make Something Moving move. Bear witness to what every single person has to say about their experience. Follow along as we highlight them on social media all month.
Billie Krishawn (Witness)
I’m not a citizen, but I’m the witness. What I’m learning is how much power comes with being a witness. We spend so much time figuring out how to take up space, but something about being a witness creates space for others to exist fully… to make change. Pearl herself is the perfect witness and throughout her lifetime her existence has allowed others to live more fully. As I continue to navigate the world, I hope to do more of that.
I love that the play has made me think about community deeper. Maynard hasn’t been here on this earth since 2003 and yet he’s somehow pushed me to take action to build the community around me. This play has done that for me and I’m so grateful for it.
It’s important the witness is included because we’ve all witnessed something, but what we choose to do with those stories determines how what we’ve lived through goes beyond just this current moment.
Kim Bey (Citizen 1)
Citizen 1 begins the journey among those who have become disillusioned with the political system and the present results of self-serving politicians and individuals who promote a “me culture” versus a “we culture.” But through her journey, Citizen 1 regains a connection to hope by seeing that community can be formed and can, indeed, fuel change in society.
Ms. Pearl Cleage has a way of embedding deep thought through the characters’ voices without moralizing. I embrace the challenge of telling this story highlighting the power of community through the life of wholly human, Mr. Maynard Jackson.
Constance Swain (Citizen 2)
I play Citizen 2. She is, as our script would say, an “upstart.” She isn’t afraid to challenge the system and definitely marches to the beat of her drum. Several times in our play, she stops the action to highlight a word or phrase. She invites the room to analyze the verbiage and often poses the question — are we really saying what we mean or are we just talking? Words are powerful – they can do good, and they can do harm. It’s our job to pick.
What I love most about this play is its celebration of community. In a world where everything is so individualized, it’s so refreshing, grounding even, to come together as these citizens to help tell the story of ordinary folks doing something extraordinary.
It’s important that my citizen’s story be represented in Maynard’s story because she represents the NOW. How Maynard’s impact and legacy has afforded her opportunities to push against the status quo, love who she loves and exercise her right to be young, gifted and Black.
Doug Brown (Citizen 3)
Citizen 3 represents real people who are the seldom heard voices of his community. They are mostly from the low-income areas of Atlanta. They are veterans, blue-collar workers and mostly folks that appreciate and will utilize their newly acquired voting rights and did.
Working on this project has presented an opportunity to get input directly from the playwright herself, which has provided some unique and wonderful insights. I love that the play and casting include, in my opinion, one of this country’s most powerful assets, its diversity.
Shaquille Stewart (Citizen 4)
Working on new plays with the playwright in the room is so dope. You have the opportunity to ask questions about your character and the text that in other works you’d have to make inferences about. Citizen #4 is pretty close to how I saw myself a few years ago, curious, yet somehow apprehensive, newly acquainted with my own sense of blackness, spongelike and always watching.
As the character, each day I find new reasons to ask more questions about ATL [Atlanta] and the world around me, but as the person, I see how similar my own experience is. This is that type of work that makes you reach out to whoever is around you and learn about them, deeply appreciating their experience no matter how different or similar it may be to your own. I think having an open mind and open heart is key to this production. This becomes truer every day.
Susan Rome (Citizen 5)
As an actor, I love being part of the process of bringing new work into the world. I have long admired Pearl Cleage’s poetic artistry as a playwright. I was interested in this story in particular because of my family’s history (Jewish and Black) of being civically active in Baltimore and invested in bridging the gap between those populations, specifically. I also am deeply inspired by the ability of diverse groups to come together in a common goal to bring about deep change!
Tom Story (Citizen 6)
I love being a part of telling a story of our history that so many people don’t know. I am excited to share this story both with people who knew every detail of Maynard Jackson’s life, and people (like me) who knew almost nothing. Maybe even more than all of that – I love being in a room where a new community is being built. Mayor Jackson has brought us together. He is changing us as individuals, but he is DEMANDING that we work together to make our world better.
Alina Collins Maldonado (Citizen 7)
My citizen is someone I didn’t expect to see as a part of this story. Rarely had I heard a Latina voice from Atlanta history. Of course, this could have resulted from my ignorance before delving deeper into this play and Atlanta’s history. I am learning that this citizen can feel unheard, unseen and invisible, but they are essential catalysts of social change and integral community members. They love Atlanta.
I love that this play tells a story that I didn’t expect. I expected to only focus on telling Maynard Jackson’s story from his perspective and those close to him. Pearl Cleage has masterfully brought to life a moment that the people, not one person, fueled to create long-lasting social change in Atlanta. Maynard Jackson was a tremendous leader, and his success resulted from “people power.” Pearl Cleage humanizes politics and makes it personal by bringing to the forefront the people who were there and directly affected by the politics of the time. Telling history this way reminds us of our power, although we often feel powerless in politics. This play gave me hope.
Shubhangi Kuchibhotla (Citizen 8)
I love this play because it gives the audience a glance at what it means to capture American history wholly. We must remember all parts of American history, even the pain, and this play shows that it is a responsibility that belongs to all. To bear witness is a human duty and the play beautifully explores that concept.
Derek Garza (Citizen 9)
I play Citizen 9, which is the Native character. New works are always exciting and full of discovery. You get to explore storytelling in new ways because this is a play that doesn’t have a history or set way of telling it.
These interviews were gathered and edited by FTS staff: Daniella Ignacio, Communications Manager.
Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard by Pearl Cleage, directed by Seema Sueko, runs September 22 – October 15, 2023. Learn more about the cast and get tickets here.