The Democracy Prep Public Schools Arts and Civics programs are excited to host The Truth Travels Project, a multidimensional production focused on voter’s rights that combines art, thought, and action. On September 27, scholars from Democracy Prep Harlem Prep High, Bronx Prep High, Democracy Prep Charter High, Democracy Prep Harlem High, and Democracy Prep Endurance High will view When Truth Is Not Enough by award-winning writer Susan Charlotte and directed by Antony Marsellis. This compelling drama, which stars Broadway actors Sean Dougherty, Kit Flanagan, and Ebony Jo-Ann, explores the trauma of voter suppression in the United States. Immediately following the performance, scholars will have the opportunity to discuss the play with the three cast members, the director, and the playwright during a question and answer session. The final component of the production is an opportunity for audience members to register to vote on the spot.
Charlotte, who wants the performance to impress upon scholars the extreme importance of voting, said, “I want them to understand the importance of having a voice more so now than ever in a country that is repressing voices.”
She also wants the play to drive the audience to action.
“Part of [the performance] is also getting people to think,” said Charlotte. “It’s not just voting, it’s having a voice and the profundity of what that voice is and not being passive.”
The idea of taking action (or not taking action) in a society that represses voices is a theme that Charlotte explores in-depth in When Truth Is Not Enough.
“There is a paralysis in society, and each of the characters in the play suffers from paralysis,” said Charlotte. “That probably is the most important thing to me– the whole idea of paralysis and how we mobilize and how we do things.”
Charlotte drew upon her family history when writing about the main character Margaret, who is the victim of voter suppression.
“My mother was an immigrant and came to this country when she was nine,” said Charlotte. “The most important thing to her was voting. That’s all she wanted, and she talked about it all the time. My mother, who was European, lost her passport. Then she took her driving test four times and failed, so she didn’t have a driver’s license. She became the inspiration for this play.”
The audience is in for a unique experience, as the Truth Travels Project combines live theater, personal engagement with the cast and creators, and a chance to take action that same day. Charlotte and play director Antony Marsellis are passionate about the impact a play can have on an audience.
“Theater is very important because it’s live,” said Charlotte. “People have that connection because the actors are right there, so you feel, even more so, the horrors of the story.” She added, “I think through art, you can affect people. You see the play, and hopefully people are shaken up.”
Marsellis added, “I don’t care what triggered you, as long as now you are part of the fight.”
The Truth Travels Project began in 2012, and it is not slowing down anytime soon. December 1st is the anniversary of the day Rosa Parks was arrested in Alabama for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger. To honor the historic event, Charlotte is currently organizing a commemorative bus ride right here in Harlem for local supporters to a venue yet to be determined to experience the Truth Travels Project—where audience members will once again have a chance to see the play and register to vote on-site.
All are welcome to see When Truth is Not Enough on Friday, September 27 at 11:00AM at the Tato Laviera Theater at Taino Towers.