and yet we'll speak

"And Yet We'll Speak"

May 2016

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Oberlin College senior Lillian White led the men of ODAG in developing a remarkable script for the May production of And Yet We'll Speak, which she also directed.  This original devised play, part of her senior Honors work at Oberlin College, weaves together the writings, improvisations, stories, memories, and other contributions from the ODAG actors over a nine-month rehearsal period.

The play further benefited from the assistance of eight student directors and Artistic Director Phyllis Gorfain, who helped edit the script and served as producer for the show as well as supervisor of the ODAG team. An expert musician in the ODAG troupe directed individual singing and group choruses of songs suggested by the ODAG company. Men in the GRC Tailor Shop constructed costumes, while members of the GRC Media Studio designed and executed the program and posters, as well as videotaping the production for the a closed circuit TV channel transmitting to Ohio prisons.  ODAG teamwork also drew on the leadership and skills of students, faculty, and staff at Oberlin College who support the theatre company.

underground RR

And Yet We'll Speak follows a life journey - from childhood discoveries and traumas, through adolescent realizations and mistakes, to adult incarceration and redemption. This trip makes many reference to trains--their sounds and images, their metaphors and symbols. Trains often run past prison facilities, and a busy train track bounds Grafton Reintegration Center. The play addresses how trains--underground railroads as well as ones with literal tracks--can represent a path to freedom or a way of going home.

The play's title, "And Yet We'll Speak," underscores another of the central themes of the play.  Several scenes demonstrate how breaking the silence and telling one's story - despite all the forces that impose censorship - can help heal the past and reshape the future.  The title adapts a line from Othello, when the often-silenced character, Emilia, insists, "Though all cry shame against me, yet I'll speak." That forceful Shakespeare line appears in And Yet We'll Speak as one character testifies about how playing Emilia in Othello helped him deal with the murder of his best friend.  He relates how he thought he could have prevented that slaying had he "just said something."  He then quotes Emilia, climaxing in the line, "yet I'll speak!" The entire company then adds, in a chorus of strength: "And yet we'll speak."

In May and June of 2016 And Yet We'll Speak was performed seven times, a new record for ODAG shows. The performances included five shows for friends, family, and invited guests, followed by a show for the general population of the Grafton Reintegration Center and then one for the medium security section of the Grafton Correctional Institution.  During the summer of 2016 the acting troupe hopes to tour the play to three more state prisons in Northeastern Ohio.

Following are selected pages from the program created by members of ODAG. To view a page, hover the cursor over the corresponding page number in the column on the left.

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SP!