Reintegration Through Art: “The Boston Project: Project Resilience”

Banner art by SpeakEasy Stage Co.

Presented by Speakeasy Stage Company 
Written by Fabiola R. Decius, Adriana RoCale, Nico Pang, Hortense Gerardo, Paige Monopoli, and Magda Romanska
Performed by Cheryl Singleton, Garciela Femenia, Jupiter Lê, Paige Clark, Gigi Watson, and Darya Denisova
Directed by Dawn M. Simmons, Michelle Aguillon, Desire Bennett, Michelle Ambila, Alex Lonati, and Dmitry Troyanovsky

Running June 18-30, 2021
Streaming Online 
Speakeasy Stage Company on Facebook

Review by Afrikah Smith

ONLINE — Celebrating the unique identities and experiences that make up the city of Boston, Speakeasy presents The Boston Project: Project Resilience. Showcasing six original plays by Boston local playwrights, Project Resilience is part of Speakeasy’s initiative in supporting the creation of new play development set in Boston.

Each play in Project Resilience felt personal and recognized the diverse communities that call Boston home. With the wonderful format of being a film, it was great to see six plays speaking to identity, memory, grief, and moving forward after all that has happened this past year. As the arts world begins to reintegrate patrons, cultural workers, and communities alike, Project Resilience reminds us that we are not alone in our experiences and our collective histories.

Plays like Fabiola R. Decius’s If You Begin, Finish It and Adriana RoCale’s East Boston, Nos Vemos examined the complexity of home and the beauty of building community through sharing stories, food, and the beautiful landscape of Boston. Reckoning with the unfortunate circumstance of the gentrification crisis in Boston and losing what is dear to us, we part with these wise words:  

“We are what we decide to be, and not what happens to us.”

With the sudden change and upheaval that we have gone through, how do we ground ourselves to make sense of it all? Nico Pang’s My Body is a Season brought light to the trans community’s conflict with labels, navigation of identity, and the ever gnawing question of “am I trans enough?” that individuals faced in lockdown. Pang uses seasonal metaphors in their poetic anecdotes to symbolize self-worth, healing, and life. In Paige Monopoli’s Mae & Mia, the act of moving forward proves to be non-linear; our life plans may take a detour, or even change, but the companions we meet along the way make the journey worth it.  Exploring loss and uncertainty in its fluid forms, both plays speak to the inner dialogues of the younger communities of Boston.

Grief is always tricky. Sometimes it hits us immediately, while for others, it hits long after our loss. Whether a loved one, a job, or even the routines that made up our lives pre-pandemic, we grieved over what made up our former lives. How do we make space for that? Especially after more than a year? In Life is Elsewhere by Magda Romanska, loss and moving past that loss are made more complex while processing the revolving door of current events. Or in Hortense Gerardo’s Painless, reckoning with the pain associated with the pain associated with the loss of a loved one.

Although each play was short, they left me sitting with a lot to unpack about my own experiences with this past year. Virtual theatre became the norm when theatres shut down early last year. Watching Project Resilience made me look forward to connecting and building community with members from all walks of life in the theatre (when it is safe to do so). Until then, learn more and watch the Boston Project: Project Resilience online at https://www.speakeasystage.com/project-resilience/ through June 30.

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