Have you ever found yourself in a conflict where you felt like you kept missing the opportunity to say what you really want to say?
What's the bigger issue today - community-police tensions or inner-city violence?
But are both of these issues connected? Can we address them both at once?
Can a play give us the opportunity to say... or hear... what's missing? Spark constructive dialogue? expand our polarized horizons? Tangibly improve community-police relations?
We believe so.
Hi, I'm Chuk, and I'm a New York City-based performing artist. I'm also a writer, director, producer, and advocate for social justice. All that being said, I'd like to introduce you to a very special project that combines all of these worlds - Uniform Justice.
We're excited to say that this "play" will be presented at this years NY International Fringe Festival. I also call it a "project" because of its potential for far-reaching impact, beyond the stage!
Uniform Justice tells the story of an urban neighborhood where community members and police search for solutions to rampant violence afflicting their streets and the conflicts and suspicions dividing them. Primarily focusing on three childhood friends reevaluating their bond when one becomes a cop, eight total characters give voice to eight different perspectives around concepts of relationships, effective policing, systemic racism, and justice.
Having premiered in 2014, the play's creation was commissioned by the Mayor’s office of Memphis, TN to bring local community members and police together and foster constructive dialogue. Working with the social justice arts organization TE’A at Intersections International (Theatre, Engagement & Action), I wrote Uniform Justice from experiences and what we call “Insight” conversations with local residents and police. The Insight approach - a study of how the mind operates when in conflict - is a unique approach to conflict transformation used to challenge conflicting parties to choose curiosity over certainty when in conflict. Or in other words, genuinely wonder about who you're conflicting with.
What does that accomplish, you may wonder?
Is it possible that getting to know what you previously didn't know about someone can transform that relationship?
Yeah. And we have proof:
In Memphis, this approach was applied to both law enforcement training and theatre in a successful effort to reduce retaliatory violence and arrest rates in the city through improving community-police relations. When surveyed, EVERY OFFICER who participated in the Insight training noted that they were since making fewer arrests, communicating with local residents more effectively, and/or establishing a stronger sense of trust with the communities they were policing.
And what does this play accomplish?
Its a reflection of personal narratives, inspired by the Insight conversations we had in Memphis. Inspired not just by genuine concerns, but concerns that don't always come to the surface in the heat of a conflict... or at all. Audiences see just how unique and nuanced people can be, while at the same time being able to relate to or identify with some of these characters. While the story is Memphis-specific, it most certainly resonates with the entire nation these days, certainly here in New York.
And it doesn't end just there. Every performance is immediately followed by a brief facilitated dialogue where we collectively process the themes, share insights, and most importantly - reflect on our own capacities to expand our polarized horizons. We're not talking about overnight life transformations; but we ARE talking about potentially shifting the way we regard each other. A shift like that may be subtle, but the impact can go a long way.
So here we are today. Since Memphis, Uniform Justice has been presented as a staged reading over a dozen times, including a recent regional tour that took the piece to New York, New Jersey, and Ohio. And now our goal is to bring this story back to New York, to a wider audience and as a FULL PRODUCTION.
FringeNYC has invited this production to be presented at the off-Broadway theatre venue Teatro SEA at the Clemente for five performances.
New York is my home town, where community-police relations are more tense and polarized than ever, where some see crime as the bigger issue without considering that the two issues are connected, and where theatre thrives. I can't imagine a more appropriate time and place for this.
Here's where you come in.
This project simply cannot happen without your support. As you most likely know, quality theatre is expensive to produce. I'm seeking your help to raise $11,000, which would help to cover most of the production costs, which you'll find listed in the summary below.
If you're unable to support financially or if you're interested in other ways to support this, there ARE other ways to help. You can:
- Spread the word about our campaign! Share the link to this page on social media, email your friends
- Come see the play! Tickets are on sale now on our Tickets Page!
- Follow Uniform Justice on Twitter - @UniformJustice, like our Facebook page, or visit our website
- Visit the website to see what we're up to.
If you have any questions or thoughts, you can write me at Chuk@uniformjusticetheplay.com
So here's the journey that lies ahead of us. I hope you'll take this journey with us. Support Uniform Justice!
Thanks for visiting,