Claire Jamison, Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Power of People Combined (POPC), Sophia Zukoski, Co-Artistic Director of POPC, and curator/playwright, Evan Starling-Davis, are collaborating to create Monuments—a sociopolitical, experimental, full-length play commenting on history and education in America via the interrogation of commemorative statues. The project utilizes a multidisciplinary theatrical lens of Afrosurrealism in order to explore how history is taught and lost in traditional classroom settings, as well as American society at large. Influenced from the writing and directorial styles of Suzan-Lori Parks and Caryl Churchill, Monuments navigates narrative, and the fantastical, to create a environment rooted in the weird, sweet, and militant.
Monuments begins in a history classroom; set in a world that seems too manufactured to be genuine. We follow a curriculum lesson filled with gaps in truth, as a student daydreams and embarks on an existential field trip—imagining themselves as a monument in the teacher’s lesson. Throughout the play, characters are immersed in journeys that reclaim lost voices and mis-represented histories. Through their explorations, the audience is asked to question the current version of our country’s history that is fed to us as facts, and imagine a new telling of our country’s accounts, where every experience is represented equally. Our intention is to tour Monuments nationally; performing in schools, at historical societies, theaters, and museums; adapting the content to reflect pieces of history from each specific state. By challenging America’s widely-taught history, we’re asking audiences who have fully accepted the American textbook storyline, and/or intentionally denied perspectives outside of the white narrative portrayal, to question our nation’s records, and recognize that these texts are often delegated by a homogenous group. The experiences of Americans whose historical interpretations directly conflict with those narratives—i.e. American indigenous peoples and descendants of the African diaspora—are frequently footnotes in a world of text. To dismantle America’s founding myths means an opportunity to engage wholeheartedly within the representation, achievements, and perspectives of communities left out of their own told pasts.