CHANGE is in the air as we begin our 3rd season agitating for freedom and participatory democracy here in Syracuse. New music, new partnerships, and new people coming together with passion and intelligence to rebuild our amazing city!
Our first Revival is at 7:30pm on Friday, October 4, at Plymouth Church in Syracuse. We’ll be joined by the Syracuse Community Choir and guest preacher, Dr. Barbara Ransby. The topic will be Education in a Democracy. This celebration will be part of the national conference of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life. Join Us!
Let’s start this season of change with a remix of DFR’s signature number, “Change.” What a powerful new ranchera section by our own Carolina Kim Tihanyi! Thanks to Jocko and moresound315 for their consistently incredible work!
A new video for the “about” page. Thanks to Mark Alhadeff at North Seven Productions in Brooklyn, who shot and edited this; to Janny Crotty and Holly Zahn for extra footage; and Imagining America and New York Council for the Humanities for funding it!
Hope you Enjoy!
Details: Thursday, April 25, 7pm. Grace Episcopal Church. 819 Madison St., Syracuse.
Very exciting times at DFR, as we approach our last full Revival of our second season! Unbelievably, we will have managed since September to perform 8 times, with 7 full-scale revivals, all on a different theme. That’s 14 performances and 11 full Revivals in our two year history. Excuse us for saying so, but given the fact that every single show is unique and tackles a different theme — and that we are comprised completely of volunteers from the community — this is impressive!! What many of us find very exciting is the way that the twin engines of our company — art and activism — take turns driving our evolution. The last several revivals have seen both our art and our activism take significant leaps forward. Next week will be no different. Get ready for some giant puppetry and some cool FX! And yet another original song. But in addition to more high-level aesthetics, we will also be continuing to refine our post-Revival dialogue in a way intended to move us into concrete actions around specific issues.
As has been written on this site, our shows this year are being sponsored, in part, by the New York Council for the Humanities. One of NYCH’s board members was sent to our “Daughters of the Harvest” Revival in March to assess and report on what we were doing. Here’s what that person had to say (with names and email addresses excluded of course):
Two weeks until the second of our four (maybe five) performance & dialogue Revivals supported by the New York Council for the Humanities. Sunday, March 24, 5pm, @ Grace Episcopal Church (819 Madison St.)
This is a partnership with Sally Wagner, executive director of The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation in Fayetteville, and 17 undergraduate students in her intro. to women’s studies class. The theme is women’s power and understanding the contemporary relevance of Gage — the most radical of the suffragists. (And really, even applying the word ‘suffragist’ to Gage is exceedingly reductive!)
It’s been a wonderful example of “engaged humanities.” The students have been the best. They are truly the content experts in the room, helping DFR to shape the message and making sure what we’re including is the best distillation of Matilda’s primary concerns. The conversations between the students, directed toward us, have been fascinating. Several of them have expressed how exciting it’s been for them to see that what they’ve been learning about some 19th century “historical figure” can actually be applied to people’s lives today. And beyond that, they were eager to see an audience wholly unfamiliar with Gage be exposed to the same learning. They are feeling like contributors to knowledge, not just consumers of it!
The Revival itself will be yet another experiment for us. With the help of Dudley Cocke, renown grassroots theater maker and consultant, we made great strides with the Ida Benderson Revival last month. The idea of DFR framing a centerpiece focusing on real people testifying about one issue has clarified and simplified a lot of what we do. Still, each show has its own creative impulse, and the community organizer (this time, Aimee Brill) brings not only her or his ideas to the table, but also the ideas of the group being featured. What Dudley imagined with us was the idea that DFR could simply do the opening song (The DFR Song), Ebenezer’s monologue, and the closing song (Change). The entire center would be dominated by the work of the community organizer and the featured group, which would vary from show to show.
The idea was that this would make things simpler and the workload would be much more evenly distributed. And in many ways that’s happened. But the unique backstory of The DFR compels us as a group to create narrative arcs into each of the shows, to fit the group within the context of the “time traveling liberationist” story. Interestingly, the simplification seems to have given us space to focus on aesthetics and our fictional narrative, which I think in turn is only going to help the overall impact of the performance.
Last month we alluded to having traveled to the future, thereby anticipating the city’s closure of the senior center. This month we’re starting back in the past, in the 19th century — actually showing ourselves in a different period for the first time — where Ebenezer is confronted with his own ignorance and arrogance attempting to be an ally to the women in his community. And after that confrontation, Ebby recedes into the background and the women essentially take the show over. It’s pretty great, especially considering how much Ebenezer had dominated the stage time until very recently. This new model is truly pushing the group into a lot of new directions, and giving a lot of folks opportunities to express who they are and to showcase their own passions.
We hope you’ll join us on March 24th.
Oh! And Syracuse’s wonderful The Mission Restaurant will be catering our post-Revival facilitated conversation at around 6:30.
Should be great! See you there!
Recently, The D.R.E.A.M. Freedom Revival held a performance and dialogue in collaboration with the Ida Benderson Seniors Action Group. Learn about the event and the causes it promoted from this news coverage.
“Former Ida Benderson Senior Center Members in Syracuse and political theater group Dream Freedom Revival took the stage at Grace Episcopal Church over the weekend. They expressed the need for a new senior center in downtown Syracuse. WAER’s Valerie Crowder has more…” Click here to listen to the audio.
In “Don’t Close the Doors on Them Just Yet,” The Stand’s Natalie Caceres reports on the “jovial, quirky and message-heavy performance.” Here’s a snippet from the article:
For Mary Carr, 64, who’s a member of the Ida Benderson Seniors Action Group and was a regular face at the center before it closed, she hopes that through events like these the eventual goal of bringing back the center will become actualized — and quickly.
“You took our freedom away again from somewhere comfortable,” Carr says about what the closure meant to her and others. “This event helps to let people know that we are not gone and we are still looking for a place to go.” Although the center closed more than a year ago, she’s hopeful that soon they’ll have a new place to call home.
Thanks to Valerie and Natalie for covering the event, and to everyone who attended!
Busy, busy times at DFR as we begin to undertake our funding partnership with New York Council for the Humanities, which is funding a 4-performance Revival + Dialogue series through September.
There may not be more here until we’re through our first one, on February 16th at 3pm, at Grace Episcopal Church in Syracuse. It’s a show we’re creating with The Ida Benderson Senior Action Group, a group of senior citizens who in 2011 were displaced by the city of Syracuse from their community center “home” of 35 years. This Revival seeks to provoke a discussion about the mayor’s actions, about ageism, and about the experiences of seniors in the city of Syracuse.
For more information, contact Kevin Bott at 315-443-8590. Hope to see you on the 16th!