The Wisconsin Union Theater will host two virtual streaming performances of “Primer for an Impossible Conversation,” an interdisciplinary arts work centering on dialogue about race, followed by a moderated conversation with theater artists and co-creators Marcella Murray, David Neumann and Tei Blow on April 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. CDT.
The idea for the piece began when Murray, a Black woman, and Neumann, a white man, began talking about racism after an incident on their campus. This sparked an ongoing conversation that ultimately led to the creation of “Primer for an Impossible Conversation.” Continuing to unpack their years-long conversation around race, in this piece, Murray, Neumann and Blow interweave imagery, short bursts of dance, and the digitized distance.
The creators aimed for the piece to serve as a step-by-step non-instruction manual that reveals the efforts needed for two people to actually be in the same place at the same time. It emerged from the creators’ feeling the need to continue their conversation about race as a creative act, adapting and responding to Obie Award-winning “Distances Smaller Than This Are Not Confirmed,” a piece made for the stage by Murray and Neumann, which premiered in January 2020.
In “Primer for an Impossible Conversation,” Murray and Neumann hurtle through space as they face not only the challenge of having a conversation from their experiences but also with the difficulties inherent in connecting over online platforms while quarantined from in-person exchanges during COVID-19.
“‘Primer for an Impossible Conversation’ depicts the undeniable complexity and importance of having conversations about race. David and Marcella are sincere in their desire to understand each other through the lenses of their racial identities, and their mutual respect for each other keeps the conversation going rather than shutting it down,” Wisconsin Union Theater Director Elizabeth Snodgrass said. “The piece is also an incredible marker of this historic time, not just around conversations on race but also our warped sense of time, like we’re floating through space, and us working so hard to stay connected to each other.”
The Wisconsin Union Theater team invites patrons to pay what they can when they register for tickets here.
This presentation is part of the Wisconsin Union Theater team’s commitment to taking action against racial inequities, which includes making space in its budget and programming schedule to support and present events that highlight BIPOC’s stories. Click here for a full statement on the Theater’s stance.
“Primer for an Impossible Conversation” is co-commissioned by the Wisconsin Union Theater and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
“So much of what the Wisconsin Union Theater has presented this year was taking what was planned to be in-person and modifying it for the virtual season,” Snodgrass said. “I wanted to present something that was designed specifically for the virtual space and shows the life we’re living right here, right now.”
The Wisconsin Union Theater presents these events, in part, with the help of financial support from the Marcia Légère Distinguished Playwright Residency Fund, Wisconsin Arts Board funding from the State of Wisconsin, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Wisconsin Union Theater team strives for all of its spaces to be accessible. The Theater will offer live captioning at both performances. Those that need accommodations can reach out to the Theater team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for more information about the Theater’s presentation of “Primer for an Impossible Conversation.”