Issue Box Theatre prides itself on educational and inspiring dialogue about contemporary issues relevant to modern audiences. In its fifth year, Issue Box is opening its floor to members of marginalized communities with its latest project, I Want You to See Me.
Throughout July, Issue Box has asked any artist who has suffered from oppression in all its forms— racism, sexism, gender identity, religious persecution and more— to submit proposals for a brief video project. The resulting pieces will then be woven together into a presentation that will screen as part of the International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference in September.
“What this project is going to be is a platform to, first and foremost, amplify voices and experiences of anybody who wants to share. If anybody feels as though their voice has been suppressed, marginalized, anything like that,” said Meg Kraner, co-director at Issue Box.
“What we really want to do is just make sure that we are using our creative environment, we’re using our social justice environment, our social work backgrounds, to be able to provide this platform for awareness, education, connection and creativity.”
Issue Box has been a part of the Social Justice Conference for several years, presenting plays that address a variety of societal issues. This year, as the Conference has moved online, the theater group considered a video project focused on human trafficking before the death of George Floyd inspired a nationwide movement, crying for marginalized voices to
“If you identify as someone in a marginalized population, we want to hear from you,” Issue Box founder and Artistic Director Rosie Best said. “And we want to use this platform that we’ve built, that we’ve been given to amplify those voices.”
The team has gotten a variety of ideas for material from contributors; a poem, a dance, etc. Best noted how she really didn’t want to constrain any artists with guidelines, as she’d rather shape the work to what people bring to the party, rather than trying to make their genuine expressions fit into a preconceived vision.
“If you tell people, ‘I want you to draw me a picture of a flower with red petals and green stem,’ all you’re going to get is, however many people in the class, red petals, green stem,” Best said. “If you say, ‘I want you to give me a flower,’ then you open up the possibility of how people interpret a flower. And so there is a deliberate vagueness to the project description, because we don’t want to determine what people’s creativity is going to look like when it comes to us.”
The virtual International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference will take place September 23-25, but both Best and Kraner expressed the belief that this project could expand and grow beyond its initial exhibition as part of that event.
“We hope for this project that we get 100 submissions, and we have more than we can do with. And so
we hope that this becomes almost
an installation kind of project,” Kraner said.
For more information on ‘I Want You to
See Me’, visit issueboxtheatre.org.