Context & Conversation is co-produced and co-presented by Trinity Repertory Company and Providence Public Library along and community partners specially chosen for each production.

At Trinity Rep we program our plays in response to the world around us. The artists and administrators who bring each play to life spend a lot of time talking about what’s happening in our community and how it resonates with the themes in the production. We hope every piece we put on our stage is relevant to your everyday life and allows you to see your world in a new way.

Providence Public Library, our next-door neighbor,  serves as an open and supportive teaching and learning place where communities can connect, create, achieve, and share experiences and ideas. The Library expands its reach through critical statewide collaborations, including co-producing and co-presenting the dynamic dialogues of Context & Conversation with Trinity Rep.

Each Context & Conversation event brings together scholars, artists, and community practitioners to discuss the themes and ideas found in the play currently on stage at Trinity, and to consider where we find those themes and ideas at work in our own community. The conversations are moderated by Christina Bevilacqua, Providence Public Library’s Programs & Exhibitions Director and Trinity Rep’s Conversationalist-in-Residence, and each takes place in a community setting related to the themes of the play.  While the play is the inspiration for the Context & Conversation event, the conversation doesn’t depend on the play; you can attend and participate in Context & Conversation even if you haven’t seen it. All Context & Conversation events are free and open to the public.

Discussions for the 2018-19 Season:

The Song of Summer “Seeing our Shadows”
Venue/Community Partner: Zabinski Music Studio, a family-owned music studio in Pawtucket offering private lessons and an academy that believes music is for everyone
Address: 228 Main St. Fl 3, Pawtucket, RI 02860
Date: Sunday, March 24 at 2 pm
Reservations are encouraged. Please RSVP to events@trinityrep.com 

Most families include ghosts – of those no longer alive, but also of those dreamed of but never born, born but never acknowledged, of those gone one day without explanation. Attitudes and practices around fertility, birth, family structure, adoption, and parenting have changed rapidly over the past several decades, reflecting evolving ideas about the status of women, reproductive rights, medical breakthroughs, identity within a multicultural society, and privacy rights, and supported by technologies that make tracing a missing person – or just a person that you miss – seem almost as easy as ordering takeout. Join us for a conversation with artists, scholars, and community practitioners whose work acknowledges these parallel presences, and illuminates our ambivalence about the powerful roles they play in our lives.

PANELISTS:
Poet, writer, and visual artist Mary-Kim Arnold
Brown University Professor of Anthropology Jessaca Leinaweaver
Writer and educator Bev Wright
Swearer Center Program Manager for Faculty Engagement and Research Jesús J. Hernández

Little Shop of Horrors
Venue/Community Partner: The Herbarium, a collection at Brown consisting of dried and pressed plant specimens mounted on sheets of archival paper
Address: 34 Olive Street, Providence, RI 02912
Date: Tuesday, April 23, 2019, at 6:30 pm
Speakers: Tim Whitfeld
Reservations are encouraged. Please RSVP to events@trinityrep.com 

The natural world is all around us. Tamed, caged, potted, and fenced in by us, it rarely reveals its wildness, its alien aliveness, its buoyant appetites. But every now and then, given the smallest chance, it reasserts its power, heedlessly overrunning any boundaries and borders we might have placed in its way, and changing our landscapes and lives forever. Are we paying attention?

Marisol
Venue/Community Partner: Mathewson St Church and 134 Collaborative, the joyful worship of God by all persons—regardless of age, race, national origin, sexual orientation, or ability
Address: 134 Mathewson Street, Providence, R.I.  02903
Date: Friday, May 31, 2019 at 12:30 pm
Reservations are encouraged. Please RSVP to events@trinityrep.com 

Civilization is a set of orders that runs so automatically that we don’t notice it, until it breaks down.Then, we have to acquaint ourselves with the decisions behind the orders, with even the idea that decisions were ever made at all – and who made them? Did God make all this? Might there in fact have been different decisions? Thrown out of our ordered orbits, what happens when we realize that we are the ones who have to make new decisions? What can we fall back on? And how do we move forward?

Past Events:

Pride & Prejudice
Venue/Community Partner: Wage House, an improv comedy theater created in 2016 by Casey Calderiso and Kate Teichman
Address: 560 Mineral Spring Ave, Pawtucket RI 02860 in the Lorraine Mills
Date: Thursday, October 18, 2018, seating begins at 7:30 pm
Speakers: Kate Teichman, Casey Calderiso
Reservations: Wage House

Kate Hamill’s adaptation Pride & Prejudice revels in Jane Austen’s brilliant wit, and reveals her talents as an armchair anthropologist, one whose characters deftly and hilariously demonstrate that while sexual attraction and emotional compatibility may be credited with initiating the course of a romance, its success or failure will likely be determined by a combination of economics, family structure, marriage law, and social theories of gender-determined behavior (however dubious). And while we may think ourselves less encumbered by societal strictures than were Austen’s heroines, Hamill’s distillation gives us plenty of opportunity to recognize the absurdities of unspoken expectations and cultural contradictions that characterize our own 21st-century norms of courtship.

black odyssey/An Iliad
Venue/Community Partner: Sophia Academy, an all-girls school dedicated to changing the lives of girls from low-income homes through an empowering middle school education
Address: 582 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, Rhode Island 02907
Date: Thursday, January 17 at 6 pm, snacks at 5:30

Do we make our history, or does our history make us? How do we learn who and where we came from? How do we remember the stories of those who came before us? Who do we tell them to? Who do we keep them from? When do we try to forget them? What happens if we do? Join us for a conversation about how war, migration, escape, alliance, family, memory, myth, erasure, fate, and faith shape our lives and how we see our lives, and what we do and don’t tell about what we’ve lived, lost, and remembered.

Join us as Providence Public Library Program & Exhibitions Director/Trinity Rep Conversationalist-in-Residence Christina Bevilacqua moderates a discussion with:

  • Marco McWilliams, Program Coordinator, Swearer Center, Brown University, educator and public scholar of African American history
  • Maiya Gamble Rivers, Manager of Programs and Outreach for the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, Brown University
  • Nada Samih-Rotondo, ELL Teacher, Paul Cuffee Charter School, and writer;
  • Lt. Col. Mathies J.  Santos, USAF, Ret, Associate Chief, Patient Services, Providence Veterans Administration Medical Center
  • Chanda Womack, Founding Executive Director of ARISE (Alliance of RI Southeast Asians for Education)
  • and Sophia Academy students Josephine Cook and Idowu Demola

Macbeth:
Venue/Community Partner: Butler Hospital and The Mental Health Association of RI, promotes mental health, prevents mental illness, and improves the system of care for mental health through advocacy, education, service, and the dissemination of research
Address: Butler Hospital, Ray Conference Center, 345 Blackstone Blvd. Providence, RI 02906
Date: Monday, Feb 11 at 6:30 pm

Macbeth’s bravery in battle gains him a promotion, for which he’s humbly grateful. But when presented with a prophecy of himself as king, he abdicates any duty to earn the crown by valor, instead turning to deceit, betrayal, and murder to immediately gratify the fantasy of himself on the throne. His selfish, violent actions destroy everything he once fought to honor: family, duty, brotherhood, esteem. Finally, the chasm between his image as a godly, righteous king and his actual existence of emptiness, paranoia, and misery, swallows him.

This gap between idealized image and empty, desperate existence is one that we recognize today, as we’re urged to create and present an inflated, enviable identity by means of image-making and self-promotion, rather than by living, learning, and applying the lessons of experience. Examples of this dynamic abound in our popular culture and the media, and we can see it as well in the increasing need and use of mental health services for feelings of meaninglessness and worthlessness. How did we get here? What is the allure of inhabiting an image with no earned experience? What does it cost us to live in that anxiety-filled gap, comparing ourselves to others and worrying that we will be found out? Join us for a conversation with scholars, artists, and community practitioners to consider the construction of the self, the risks and rewards of accountability, and finding meaning in living our actual lives.

Join us as Providence Public Library Program & Exhibitions Director/Trinity Rep Conversationalist-in-Residence Christina Bevilacqua moderates a discussion with:

  • Dr. Paul Baker, psychiatrist, Butler Hospital;
  • Julia Steiny, founder and Managing Director of Youth Restoration Project, a consulting practice working with schools, social-service agencies, state and local authorities and neighborhood organizations to teach and implement restorative practices;
  • Tiana Whittington, dancer, currently performing in Good Grief, Everett Company’s multimedia dance theater work exploring the minds and bodies of individuals after enduring trauma.

Join us as Providence Public Library Program & Exhibitions Director/Trinity Rep Conversationalist-in-Residence Christina Bevilacqua moderates a discussion with Wage House founders Kate Teichman and Casey Calderiso, artist Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, and others about women defying expectations, flouting conventions, entertaining possibilities, indulging desires, laughing wantonly, and daring to improvise.