1968: The Whole World is Watching
Conceived and directed by Annie Arnoult
Created in collaboration with performers:
Joshua de Alba
Jaime Garcia Vergara
Original Music by Paul Beebe
Robin Anderson, Producer
Christina Maley, Production Manager
Mary McNeely, Stage Manager
Ryan McGettigan, Scenic Designer
Lauren Davis, Props Designer
Tiffany Schrepferman, Lighting and Projection Designer
Bryan Ealey, Sound Engineer
Ashley Horn, Costume Designer
Ruben Sanchez, John Moore, and Kalliope Vlahos, Set Construction
Daniel Christensen, Contributing Writer
Austin Lysy, Voiceover
Matthew Gregory Hollis, Promotional Photographer
Lynn Lane, Production Photographer
BEND Productions, Videographer
Abby Flowers, Graphic Designer
Every show I build is part research project, part love letter, part collage, and part stream-of-consciousness journal entry. I never go looking for a subject. They seem to look for me. 1968 has been stalking me since I performed in a college production of HAIR in 1996. We watched The Graduate. We devoured Woodstock footage. We studied protest movements and danced naked and spent spring break living communally on a little farm outside of Nashville. We tried hard to understand the anger, loss, and fear caused by the Vietnam War, extreme economic divisions, racial injustice, and the assassinations of complicated, impactful leaders that stood for hope and change and the promise of a better tomorrow. But we didn’t get it. I didn’t get it. Until 2020.
In 2020, a virus threatened the lives of everyone we loved. Financial security disappeared overnight. George Floyd was killed by a policeman while everyone watched. People got angry and nasty and mean and bold in their hate speech and in their silence. Our city streets went up in flame. Police donned riot gear. Families forgot how to talk to each other. On every side, we felt desperate and afraid and confused. On January 6, 2021, the capital was attacked. This was not our country. This was not our war.
I saw 1968 all around me – and I needed to understand it to make sense of the present. I listened to LBJ’s telephone tapes. I read the Kerner Commission and the Walker Report. I watched films of the ‘68 Democratic National Convention. I studied Jules Feiffer’s sketches of the Trial of the Chicago 7; and I poured over speeches by Kennedy, King, McCarthy, and Nixon. The scared voices, the beaten bodies, the reaching hands, the broken windows, the smoking fires, the police uniforms, the lines of people throwing punches and pressing against each other were too familiar.
For the next 60 minutes, I invite you to come inside the year 1968 – to bear witness to the tumult, yes, but also to pay close attention to the small moments – a hand touching a back, a shirt being buttoned, a shoulder being leaned on. These intimate moments are the most powerful protest tools we have available – declaring in the midst of persistent pain and injustice that this human being next to me deserves my eye contact, my touch, my witness, my careful attention. I also invite you to be curious and to have fun – to move through the space and explore and touch and investigate the world we have created for you. This imaginary world of 1968 in 2023 is ours to share, just like our real one.
-Annie Arnoult, Artistic Director
This performance contains haze, fog effects and simulated gun shots.
BIBLIOGRAPHY and RESOURCES
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