Creative Research/Projects

Individualized Creative Research

 Feeding my aesthetic and artistic efforts, my research is supported by the practice of PaR (Performance as Research). My areas of expertise are in Solo Performance, Race in Performance, and Activist Theatre.

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Academic/Community-Based Creative Research

Through experiential learning, I adapted a skill set and practice that presents an open forum for both theatrical and non-theatrical individuals to explore their own artistic curiosities using Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed and Improvisational techniques. By providing resources and exercises for utilizing one’s own distinctive histories and experiences, I believe we can foster a community of artists built on confidence and artistic integrity.  

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Individualized Creative Research

#SayHerName: Sandra Bland Project

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As I approached my one-woman show The Intersection, a play about the last hours of Black Lives Matters activist Sandra Bland, I explored the following Theatre of the Oppressed exercises...

More About Sandra Bland Project

Being B.A.D: Domestic Violence Awareness

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This piece explores the lengths in which one decides to take that power back. 1 in 4. It’s not just a number, it’s...  


More About Being B.A.D.

Traffick Stop

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Co-creator of Traffick Stop,  a half-hour dramedy series with the goal of raising awareness for human trafficking in an unconventional way...


More About Traffick Stop

#SayHerName: Sandra Bland Project

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The Intersection (The Sandra Bland Project)

“I’ve wished death on myself many times but this was never my idea”, an excerpt from The Intersection.    


PROJECT OVERVIEW

The Intersection, a new play in development by Brittney S. Harris and directed by Marlon Andrew Burnley, explored the depths of equality, justice, and mental health awareness through theatrical performance. This project focused on the life of Black Lives Matter activist Sandra Bland and the last hour before her body was discovered in her jail cell on July 13, 2015. While there are plenty of news and social media commentary surrounding Bland’s case, there is more beyond the headlines! Behind this talented, vividly expressive humanitarian lived a woman who was plagued by societal expectations of ‘being a strong black woman’ and riddled with the possible bouts of mental illness. This play is a fictionalized dramatization of her final moments.  The staged reading and talkback provided an open forum for conversation about the adverse effects of social media in the African American community and stigmas surrounding mental health awareness and illness.


Methodological Approach(es): Theatre of the Oppressed (Augusto Boal); Call and Response Theatre; 

Activist Theatre


PROJECT REFLECTION

One of my main concepts is called “Drama to Drama”: taking the headlines to the stage. The headlines and social media play a crucial part in our everyday interactions. Sometimes covering the goodness in the world, majority of the news reports and trending topics are of negative nature. I have found a niche for “breathing life into the black and white” and performing the oppressed and silenced side of the headlines. 


As I approached my one-woman show The Intersection, a play about the last hours of Black Lives Matters activist Sandra Bland, I explored the following Theatre of the Oppressed Forum Theatre exercise to assess overlaying adversities plaguing the African-American community. In true Boalian style, during our two-month development process, we began each of our rehearsals with exercises specific in creativity and connecting with my five senses. The purpose of this activity was to evolve a piece of theatre where my personal experiences of oppression were the focus of the session. From there, I employed other theatrical techniques such as Chekhov’s Psychological Gesture to create Sandra Bland’s distinct physical and vocal characterizations. 


Much like Boal’s socio-political background, my one-woman show served as a conversational piece with the ‘unbreakable black woman’: an oppressed and often misunderstood entity in American society. Black women were often deemed as ‘the Jezebel or sex symbol’ or even the ‘Mammie’; because of this tragic misunderstanding, I modeled my show around disbarring such accusations and telling a different side of the “narrative”. Over the past year, I have been delving into extensive research, between articles and archival information, to develop this one woman show. The show provided a candid forum for conversations about the issues of African Americans and their plight of mental illness. Much like the challenges of PTSD, the constant portrayal of African-American lives being taken by police brutality or at the hands of racists/sexists individuals presents an oppressed mindset and sense of anxiety/depression in the black community. 


As I further develop The Intersection, I will continue to explore Boalian techniques involving more audience participation and interaction: perhaps even having an audience member step into the scene of the traffic stop between the officer and Sandra Bland. Utilizing this Theatre of the Oppressed approach will provide an intricate alternative look at the situation at hand.  


Conference/Workshop Presentations


2019

33rd Annual Black Theatre Network Conference: Unapologetically Black, Winston-Salem, NC

Presented in session “Breathing Life into the Black and White: Performing Sandra Bland


GESA Conference: 4th Annual Kinship, Community, and Activism in the Cultural Production of the Black Diaspora Conference, Howard University

Presented in session “Breathing Life into the Black and White: Performing Sandra Bland


9th Annual African, African American, & Diaspora Studies (AAAD) Conference, 

James Madison University

Presented in session “Breathing Life into the Black and White: Performing Sandra Bland

Being B.A.D: Domestic Violence Awareness

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Being B.A.D.

Developed during the 2nd year of my MFA program, Being B.A.D. is a piece about personal acceptance and redemption from the cycle of abuse. This piece explores the lengths in which one decides to take that power back after years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her family and romantic partner.  1 in 4. It’s not just a number, it’s a declaration for change.


Being B.A.D. is an example of the theatrical pedagogical term ‘Activist Theatre’. I adapted Augusto Boal’s Rainbow of Desire actor-spectator model and developed an open process where personal and audience experiences of gender and relationship oppression were the focus of the work. In the wake of the #MeToo and Times Up movements, this applied theatre work is relevant to our community in providing insight to a cathartic resolution and engaging in civil dialogue.  


Methodological Approach(es): Solo Performance, Bruno & Mixon; Rainbow of Desire, Augusto Boal; Grotesque, Chekhov Technique; Narrative-based Storytelling


Performance Dates

  • July 2019, National Black Theatre Network Conference, Winston-Salem, NC
  • July 2019, Women Theatre Fringe Festival, Raleigh, NC
  • April 2019, Gender, Bodies, and Technology Conference, Radford, VA
  • March 2019, part of the Black Love Exhibit, Virginia Tech, Collaboration with Virginia Tech Women’s Center
  • January 2019, As part of collaborative project Three Hysterical Women: Explorations of "Feminine" Rage One-Woman Show Collective, Virginia Tech
  • April 2017, University of Georgia

Being B.A.D. [Production Video]

Check out this teaser of Being B.A.D., a solo performance, performed and written by Brittney S. Harris.

Traffick Stop [Human Trafficking Awareness Project]

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Traffick Stop

Developed in the Winter of 2014, Julian Johnson and myself outlined a TV series focusing on raising awareness about Human and Sex Trafficking in the United States titled Traffick Stop. Not only did we serve as the executive producers, we also started in the show as well. Since the show’s conception, we have pitched the pilot to several networks in L.A. and looking into finding funding to produce a full season.    


Traffick Stop is a half-hour dramedy series with the goal of raising awareness for human trafficking in an unconventional way. The show focuses on two zany, female agents of the Special Unit Task Force who solve crimes related to teens and young adults while trying to solve the cold case of Agent Ball’s cousin’s disappearance. When Senator Heft’s daughter is reported missing, they will stop at nothing to bring her back.  Through the laughs and tears, viewers will learn about victims of human trafficking, those who seek to end it, the perpetrators, and how this affects us all.     

Traffick Stop Promo Trailer