America Too: Reckoning and Resilience marks the sixth year of the America Too initiative. This 5-part online series combines theater, music, and art with stories from our community and seeks to catalyze community dialogue around the many challenges and potential opportunities of this particular moment, as we confront the aftermath of a polarizing election season, observe the year’s anniversary of the arrival of the pandemic in Rhode Island, and reckon with the structural racism and anti-Black violence that continues to rock our communities. After five online episodes, the project will culminate in an outdoor, in-person event.
Each episode will investigate the impact of the challenges of the past year with free, hour-long programs, anchored by Michelle Cruz, Christina Bevilacqua, and Joe Wilson, Jr. The series kicks off with a look back at the origins of the America Too program and the legacy on which this year’s project builds. Subsequent episodes will explore education, health, activism, and service with a culminating performance for the final event.
Access to these live streaming events is free, but reservations are required. Register here. Videos will be posted to our website the day after each episode airs.
Throughout the spring, we will be soliciting community stories and participation. You can participate by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by leaving a voicemail at (401) 259-0676.
Episode 1 – January 28, 7:30 pm: America Too Revisited (watch here)
Christina Bevilacqua and Joe Wilson, Jr. discuss the origins of the America Too project, including its start in the Every 48 Hours project.
Episode 2 – February 25, 7:30 pm: It’s Our Education (watch here)
Featuring a performance of the poem “The New Normal” by Cranston High School 10th grader Tosin George. Tosin is also part of a conversation moderated by Joe Wilson, Jr. and Christina Bevilacqua with additional guests Jassmen Lee Johnson (parent, artist, educator, RI Dept. of Health Artist-in-Residence); Sokeo Ros (storyteller, hip hop dance educator, scholar); Amy Lopes (5th grade teacher at William D’Abate Elementary); and Athena Holloway (Classical High School 10th grader).
Episode 3 – March 25, 7:30 pm: It’s Our People (watch here)
The episode will examine the sense of community lost and regained in the pandemic through activism, and by the efforts of small business owners, musicians, artists, and filmmakers. We’ll also talk about the work of public artists and skaters to bring life into a desolate Downtown Providence during the pandemic and BLM movement (including in our own theater space with murals from local artists), and how our neighbors and partner, Providence Public Library, provided needed access and connection to our community.
Hosts Michelle Cruz, and Joe Wilson, Jr. with guest host Janaya Kizzie from PPL will be joined by special guests Asher Schofield (owner of Frog & Toad), Kenny Borge (local skater and filmmaker), Angela Gonzalez (public art activist), and Sidy Maiga (award-winning musician).
Episode 4 – April 22, 7:30 pm: It’s Our Health (watch here)
This episode will focus on mental health during the pandemic and the healing power of the arts in our communities. Hosts Michelle Cruz, and Joe Wilson, Jr. with guest host Janaya Kizzie from PPL will be joined by special guests Dr. Dana Dillon (National Alliance on Mental Illness – Rhode Island) and Ashley Frith (Community MusicWorks), who will also perform on the viola.
Episode 5 – May 27, 7:30 pm: It’s Our Service (watch here)
Senator Jack Reed will reflect on our 2006 production of Boots on the Ground, the veteran community, and Memorial Day. West Point graduate and Iraq War veteran Big Lux will perform and members of the local veteran community will do readings.
Episode 6 – June 17, 7:30 pm: Culminating Event – no registration required
America Too: Reckoning and Resilience’s culminating event will be LIVE on June 17 at 7:30 pm in Adrian Hall Way, next door to the theater. Joining us will be our BLM public artists Kendel Joseph and AGONZA to help us paint America Too on the street with the public joining in on the fun during the 7:30 pm hour as we hear live music from past America Too artists.
There will be different stations around Adrian Hall Way to experience different stories collected from our community using QR Codes, including the inspiration of AGONZA’s painting of Resident Company Actor Joe Wilson, Jr. and stories around our America Too themes this year: Education, Health, People and Service and Art.
We will end the evening with our community partner, RI Latino Arts, as we continue the tradition of Día de los Muertos, gathering to grieve our lost ones this past October and again invite the community to come to the altar provided to honor their loved ones in this shared moment of time.
After the live event, stations on Adrian Hall Way will be available throughout the summer to hear stories (via QR codes) from our community as part of PVD Fest through September 25.
Michelle Cruz is Trinity Rep’s director of community engagement; Christina Bevilacqua is the Providence Public Library’s programs and exhibitions director and Trinity Rep’s conversationalist-in-residence; Joe Wilson, Jr. is a member of Trinity Rep’s resident acting company, the creator of the America Too initiative, and also serves as an assistant professor of theatre and dance at Wheaton College and an adjunct professor of theatre at Emerson College.
This project is made possible in part by a grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities seeds, supports, and strengthens public history, cultural heritage, civic education, and community engagement by and for all Rhode Islanders.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or Trinity Rep.