The […] tragedy of the distorted personality is the fact that when one fails to harness this instinct, (Glory to God) he ends up trying to push others down in order to push himself up. (Amen) And whenever you do that, you engage in some of the most vicious activities. You will spread evil, vicious, lying gossip on people, because you are trying to pull them down in order to push yourself up. (Make it plain) And the great issue of life is to harness the drum major instinct.
—Dr. Martin Luther King, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA, February 4, 1968
This innovative new project by Theater of War Productions will engage diverse audiences in powerful dialogue about racism, inequality, and social justice by presenting a live performance of Dr. Martin Luther King’s final sermon, “The Drum Major Instinct,” embodied by prominent actors and supported by a large gospel choir, composed of singers, activists, police officers, and musicians from Ferguson, Missouri, and Brooklyn and Queens, New York. The performance will be followed by brief responses by community panelists and will culminate in a guided audience discussion. This production will feature New York City Council Member Jumaane D. Williams and actress Samira Wiley (Orange is the New Black).
This premiere of The Drum Major Instinct at BRIC is part of series of city-wide events developed by Brooklyn-based writer and director Bryan Doerries as part of his work as Public Artist in Residence (PAIR) for the City of New York, a joint appointment with the New York City Department of Veterans’ Services and Department of Cultural Affairs. During this two-year residency, he will bring more than 60 Theater of War Productions projects to diverse communities across all five boroughs.
Samira Wiley is best known for her SAG Award-winning performance as inmate Poussey Washington on Orange is the New Black. She most recently starred in the Off Broadway play Daphne’s Dive, directed by Thomas Kail (Hamilton). Wiley’s upcoming projects include roles in Hulu’s original drama series The Handmaid’s Tale, the FX show You’re the Worst, and independent feature 37. Her past film projects include Nerve, Rob The Mob, Being Flynn and The Sitter. Television appearances include The Catch, Law and Order: SVU, Person of Interest, and a recurring role on Unforgettable. Wiley is a graduate of The Julliard School.
Council Member Jumaane D. Williams represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn. He was elected in 2009, and re-elected in 2013. Williams currently serves as Deputy Leader of the New York City Council, and chair of the council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings. He is also co-chair of the Council’s Task Force to Combat Gun Violence, and a founding member of the Progressive Caucus, and is a member of the Black, Latino & Asian Caucus. Council Member Williams is a first-generation Brooklynite of Grenadian heritage. He is a proud product of the City’s public school system. He attended Philippa Schuyler Middle School for the Gifted and Talented and Brooklyn Technical High School. He earned his bachelor’s in political science, and master’s in urban policy and administration at Brooklyn College. He began his career as assistant director for the Greater Flatbush Beacon School, and later went on to serve as the executive director of New York State Tenants & Neighbors. Council Member Williams is an advocate for affordable housing, anti-gun violence measures, fair policing, equity, and social justice. His major successes as Council Member include; the Community Safety Act, which created the Office of Inspector General for the New York Police Department, the Fair Chance Act and co-chairing the taskforce, which created New York’s Crisis Management System and Cure Violence Groups to combat gun violence.
NOTE: Capacity at BRIC House is limited, and admission is on a first come, first served basis, whether you have RSVP'ed or not. Please come early to ensure entry and seating.
The BRIC OPEN Festival aims shine a light on the power of inclusive, participatory arts & media programming to shake up our ideas about who makes and consumes culture, whose voices and stories sit at the center of artistic creation, and how we come together to imagine, and move toward, the future we want.
In an effort to make The BRIC OPEN Festival truly accessible, all events are FREE with RSVP, but if you have the means, and you value artistic and cultural work, please consider making a donation to support the continued health of this programming at BRIC. Donate here!
This premiere of The Drum Major Instinct at BRIC is part of series of city-wide events developed by Brooklyn-based writer and director Bryan Doerries as part of his work as Public Artist in Residence (PAIR) for the City of New York, a joint appointment with the New York City Department of Veterans’ Services and Department of Cultural Affairs. During this two-year residency, he will bring more than 60 Theater of War Productions projects to diverse communities across all five boroughs. For more information, please visit: www.theaterofwar.nyc.
The PAIR initiative is supported by: