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FORCE! an opera in 3 acts | dark blue stitches hand made
FORCE! an opera in 3 acts | dark blue stitches hand made
FORCE! an opera in 3 acts | dark blue stitches hand made
FORCE! an opera in 3 acts | dark blue stitches hand made
FORCE! an opera in 3 acts | dark blue stitches hand made
FORCE! an opera in 3 acts | dark blue stitches hand made
FORCE! an opera in 3 acts | dark blue stitches hand made
FORCE! an opera in 3 acts | dark blue stitches hand made
FORCE! an opera in 3 acts | dark blue stitches hand made
FORCE! an opera in 3 acts | dark blue stitches hand made

frequently asked questions

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FORCE! an opera in 3 acts | dark blue stitches hand made

 + WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS, martine

 -  WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS, martine

Since 2010 I have spent many hours in the waiting spaces affiliated with prisons and jails. I felt that I wanted to liberate from those cramped rooms the range of feelings I've had over the years -- excitement and joy at the prospect of seeing loved ones; rage, annoyance, and frustration at the officers and security appartus; exhaustion with the process; and more. Moreover, I realized that those tiny-ass rooms hold lifetimes-worth of affect for so many of us, especially those of us who experience the world as Black, brown, and Indigenous people; and as queers, women, and femmes. I wanted to feel not so alone, because I know I am not. I identify as a Black queer low-key femme, often use "they" pronouns, and wanted to be in communion with other queer kin in the waiting room.

While the U.S. is home to less than 5% of the world's population, our country holds 20% of the world's incarcerated population behind bars. We keep the most people in the world locked up -- much more than China (with almost 18% of the world's population), for example. Black and Indigenous women -- and particularly trans women -- are the most likely to be incarcerated. Those of us who spend time in these places of waiting are not alone -- we are, sadly, abundant.

 + But the fact that I care for loved ones inside isn't about me, it's about my people inside. Why would we want to take the focus off of them?

 -  But the fact that I care for loved ones inside isn't about me, it's about my people  inside. Why would we want to take the focus off of them?

I am an abolitionist, meaning I believe that in the words of Albert Woodfox, "We must think, dream, and vision... a world beyond prisons."* Part of getting there is sharing with the world our stories as people with the unique experience of caring for people inside. the more our stories unleashed on the world -- stories from people currently and formerly incarcerated, as well as the stories of those who travel in and out of prisons on a regular basis -- the better chance we have to illuminate the atrocities of a system that exists to subjugate and exterminate people.

Furthermore, inasmuch as the prison and the waiting room are very particular places housing specific atrocities, the prison waiting room also offers to us a physical space to consider where else in our lives the logics and apparatus of prisons appear. We see this clearly in the school-to-prison pipeline as well as open-air prisons such as the Gaza Strip (where, in the words of Angela Davis, "One misstep and... one can be transferred from an open-air prison to a closed prison"**). We also see carceral logics functioning at a high level in predominantly white neoliberal institutions such as museums, universities, hospitals, and even theaters and dance companies. We can think of this wide range of places as holding various architectures of containment and control, which in turn employ people to carry out the functions of those apparatus -- corrections officers, Israeli occupying forces, security officers, teachers, bureaucratic administration, directors and so forth.

Therefor, while we continue to fight for an end to prison and police, we also should acknowledge that we in the free world share somatic solidarities with our incarcerated siblings, parents, aunties and uncles, and partners. As one character in the opera pronounces, "They're in the hole, and we're on the rim."

*From 'Solitary: Unbroke by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement' by Albert Woodfox, 2019.

**From 'Palestine, G4S, and the Prison Industrial Complex' speech at SOAS, London by Angela Davis, 2013.

+ I feel emotionally connected to this, but do not identify as a woman or a femme, Nor as black. where do i fit in?

- I feel really connected to this, but do not identify as a woman or a femme, nor as black. where do i fit in?

 While FORCE! is based on Whitehead's own experiences as a light-skinned black femme inside waiting rooms, this opera is for everyone. If you find yourself connecting to the music or dance just on an aesthetic or emotional level, you are already in the story. Just as a good chef prepares a meal for others with love, every aspect of FORCE! has been developed and presented with an ethics of mutual aid, black joy, and the dream of a world without prisons. Wherever you find entry into that world is the best place to start -- and remember that your journey has just begun.

+ huh? i'm a little confused.

- huh? i'm a little confused.

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FORCE! an opera in 3 acts | dark blue stitches hand made
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