Red Mountain Theatre Company is proud to announce the inaugural Human Rights New Works Festival, March 15-18 at the RMTC Cabaret Theatre. This four day event will feature a variety of dramatic staged readings of new works, panel discussions, a full production of a curated piece, and talkback sessions. In its essence, the festival is a conversation and a celebration of what unites us all-our humanity.
Joycelyn Whatley is no stranger to the RMTC stage having performed in productions of Dreamgirls and Barnstormer. She will now have the opportunity to perform and be the music director for the reading of Mother Emanuel. This is quite an undertaking for the actress, but she is up for the challenge. “I am confident in the abilities of my cast mates and I cannot wait to sing songs that I have been singing and hearing my entire life,” stated Whatley.
Mother Emanuel presents an interpretation of the events that transpired at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015. On that evening at around 8pm, a young white male entered the Bible Study which was occurring at the time and sat there until around 9:05pm when he then shot nine members of the Bible Study group. “The story is poignant and relevant to the times in which we live in. The tragedy that happened opened up discussions in the media, but it not did not touch the surface about the lives of the victims and their families. The story allows the audience members to relate to the victims in a tangible way.” explained Whatley. As a longtime member of the church and church choir, the characters hit very close to her, “I am very honored to bring my personal experience to tell their stories.”
More than the production itself, Whatley hopes that the audience will use the story to make an impact on the community. “My desire is that people will find a kindred spirit with someone in this play and will live life to the fullest and remembering that life too short to dwell on the little things that divide us. I hope that the people of Birmingham will be forever changed and find common ground, so that we can work on making a more united community.”
When asked about how the importance of the Human Rights Festival and the community it serves, Whatley stated, “My belief is that many times, we as humans, have issues because we never take the time to see thing from another person’s perspective. Familiarizing ourselves about the struggles and issues of others allows us an opportunity to find commonalities that we would otherwise have never known. I believe the Human Rights New Works Festival approaches subjects that are uncomfortable to us because of the lack of experience. It can help ignite those difficult conversations and may allow us to realize that we are more alike than different.”
RMTC invites the public to an event that will surely be engaging, enlightening, and life-changing.
¬¬Tickets for individual readings are $10 each or you can purchase a Readings Pass for $20. Tickets for Alabama Story are $15. For more information, visit RMTChumanrights.org.