On Thursday night, Jan. 8, McCarter Theatre Center partnered with three area libraries to offer the “Unrelenting Voices Read-In: A Celebration of Freedom, Justice, Mandela and More.” Community members, civic leaders, students, artists, and friends—of multiple generations—gathered in three separate locations to simultaneously commemorate and reflect upon the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela.
I would like to extend my deepest thanks to Trenton Free Public Library Director Kimberly Matthews, New Brunswick Free Public Library Director Robert Belvin, and Princeton Public Library Director Leslie Burger, and their wonderful staffs, for their help in facilitating and supporting this event. I would also like to thank our more than 95 guest readers who lent their voices to this important effort, as well as the many community members who attended to listen and discuss at the three venues. And lastly, I would like to thank the talented and devoted Education and Engagement team at McCarter who work tirelessly to bring high-quality education activities to the young, and the-not-so-young, in our region.
This amazing project was presented in conjunction with our production of Sizwe Banzi is Dead, directed by its Tony-Award winning co-creator, John Kani and co-produced with South Africa’s acclaimed Market Theatre. Groups of readers met at each library and, along with a few guest actors, to read excerpts from speeches, writings, and poetry, including texts by Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Maya Angelou, Sojourner Truth, Langston Hughes, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as well as excerpts from Sizwe Banzi is Dead, among others. The event closed with a period of discussion and reflection, during which participants shared personal responses to the emotional, historical, and contemporary resonances of the words we’d shared together. I am extremely proud to have participated and look forward to continuing the discussion in the future.
Artistic Director and Resident Playwright
McCarter Theatre Center