AOA Startup Grant 2018

moSAYics: stories about us

Shanna Goldman

moSAYics -- A play based on real life interviews with people about surviving in the current difficult economic times.
About the Project
Things are bad and getting worse. A lot of us are feeling the effects of a shaky economy. Some of us have been struggling for a long time while others are just starting to see the impacts. Jobs are harder to find, degrees are becoming harder to pay for and less likely to pay off after graduation. Budget cutbacks and layoffs are keeping people up at night. But we all have a different perspective on why these things are happening and what to do about it. And it makes it difficult to work together. Politicians and political activists argue from one side or the other using well rehearsed rhetoric, but no one is listening. I could hire think tank x to tell me one set of statistics and think tank y to give me another.  But our experiences are the only real thing we know.

My goal is to interview the real experts: workers, family members, decision makers and executives about their experiences with work, with living in a community, with the economy. Out of these interviews will emerge stories like what it was like for those who stayed behind in urban areas to watch a street bleed families as folks moved to the suburbs. Or of a middle class two income household where one spouse had to stop working to help an aging parent only to find they couldn't get a job upon returning to the workforce. I have already heard lawyers admit to his role in getting companies to pay the lowest amount of taxes possible or a woman realize her suburban lifestyle isolated her from the experiences of most everyone else around her. As people start to talk about their experiences, the hard coating of rhetoric melts leaving exposed only our humanity.

These narratives will be the basis for a play of monologues that becomes an interactive theatrical presentation. The play will tour at least New York State with local groups on opposite sides of issues along with college groups and unions to co-sponsor each performance and lead a discussion during and after the event. The goal is to create a starting point to talk about our commonalities, and build understanding of each other and our situations both as individuals and as a community. Finally, the groups will be encouraged to link the discussion back to work they are already doing in the community in order to continue the dialogue and turn it into concrete efforts.

About Me
I've been an organizer for the past 10 years. After working on political campaigns and policy reform at the local, national and statewide level, I've seen rhetoric take over, dividing us further apart rather than uniting us. People are hurting and I believe stories have a truly restorative power. I hope to combine my organizing skills with my love of people and of story telling to bring forth a new way of communicating with one another to effect positive change.

Next Steps
So far this project is completely unfunded. I am in the interviewing stage of the process right now using borrowed equipment to make audio records of the interviews. Several people I've spoken to in the theater world have recommended that I use video to capture people in order to help give actors a better representation of the characters they will portray. This money would go either to buying/renting equipment or hiring a videographer to be part of the project. Any left over money will go to advertising to recruit more people to be interviewed.

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