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Photo Credits: 1) Performance Stills: Rachel Weis; 2) Installation Photos & Videos in The Cube at the Moss Arts Center: David Franusich; Zoom Screenshots from workshop with Brittney S. Harris

The Race 2020 + The Civility Project

Collaborator with Todd Schenk, Bob Leonard, Taylor Wood, and Diksha Pilania

What can we build together when we contend seriously and healthily with our hopes, dreams and fears? The Civility Project is a hub for skills-sharing and experimentation in civil dialogue at Virginia Tech.

The Civility Project was initiated in the summer of 2020 with the goal of integrating the arts, technology, and best practices in building empathy and understanding from the social sciences to promote civil discourse. The project objectives are to: Develop a new suite of tools that foster civil discourse, utilizing new technologies and approaches derived from the performing arts; test these new approaches with community members both from campus and beyond; assess the efficacy of these new approaches; and more broadly disseminate tools and approaches found to be useful.

To date, the team has staged a virtual production, The Race 2020, and held workshops on civil dialogue with over 300 people. This year, the team is developing a multimedia event that will explore the challenges of engaging in constructive conversation to build shared capacities to connect across differences.

Watch an “ICAT Playdate” with team members here.

The Race 2020

The Race 2020, originally developed and created by Sojourn Theatre, is an interactive live-streamed performance that combines spectacle and collaborative conversation to explore communication and leadership. The production blends performance, call and response, question and answer, dance and karaoke into a participatory, highly choreographed and at times improvised exploration.

This productionʼs adaptation is developed and created by Te’Asya Hudson, Keith Patrick McCoy, Diksha Pilania, C. Meranda Flachs-Surmanek, Rachel Weis, and Taylor Wood in collaboration with our ensemble and creative team. The Race 2020 in Southwest Virginia was just one of many iterations of Sojourn Theatre's The Race  performed around the U.S. Learn more about this national partnership here. The Race 2020 in Southwest Virginia was made possible in part by a grant and extensive mentorship from Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology.

Read the playbill here for a full list of team members and reflections on our hybrid online/in-person process. You can also listen to an interview about my creative process with Co-Director Taylor Wood.