Starting Dec. 10, four plays written by award-winning Black playwright Idris Goodwin will be available free for streaming by Children’s Theater of Madison.
Since October, a team of 17 artists have been working to make the plays available for the public and teachers from Dec. 10 through Dec. 17, on the Children’s Theater of Madison’s website.
The content focuses on race and having tough conversations within the households and classrooms of Madison and beyond, Laura McMillan producer and education manager at CTM told Madison365.
“Our kids are ready for this conversation, especially in this day and age and the current climate,” McMillan said. “Nobody wants to walk around, confused on what’s happening. Nobody wants to be racialized at school and not understand why they’re being racialized. It’s a story that we all have on the team.”
When she was asked to produce the plays from Goodwin’s scripts, she was immediately passionate about ensuring everyone of the team members are people of color — that includes everyone from stage manager, marketing manager, graphic designer and the cast.
“It’s a special and certain type of voice that should be coming from these shows,” she said.
The four plays have recommended viewer age, and provide a toolkit to address race in an insightful, groundbreaking way, according to CTM’s website.
The plays are: “The Water Gun Song,” “Nothing Rhymes with Juneteenth,” “#matter” directed and produced by Cody Spellman and “Black Flag” adapted and directed by Sophia Capp.
Each play comes with a study guide for teachers — some of them are 15-20 pages and includes historic background information and theme identification.
The educational content creators with CTM are creating activities for families; such as making a flag and talking about why the flag is important, McMillan said. And viewers can watch a talk back session with McMillan and each cast member including Maia Pearson who plays the mother Jules in the play geared toward second grade and above titled, “The Water Gun Song.”
It is about a conversation a mother has with her younger son when he comes home excited he got to play with water guns.
McMillan said the conversation really hits home for a lot of mothers, and Pearson got teared up in rehearsal because she’s had these conversations with her own kids — especially about Tamir Rice, a 12 year old boy who was shot and killed by police in 2014 while playing with a toy gun in Cleveland, Ohio.
McMillan reenacts a line from the play — when Jules, the mother, tries to explain to her son, Sam, what sometimes happens when Brown or Black children play with toy guns.
Jules: Something happens when toys are in the hands of children. Especially little Brown skin children like you.
SAM: What happens to them?
JULES: Sometimes grown ups can’t tell the difference between something being a toy and being real, even if you’re playing. Not everybody is in on the game.
“The game is between you, yourself and I all of a sudden. You were just innocently there. And it is not a game anymore,” McMillan reflected.
A condition of using the scripts for the play is that the plays remain free, McMillan said, and this is something she and her team stand behind 100%.
“It is an important conversation to have. It should be started early,” McMillan said.
To access the free plays visit ctmtheater.org between December 10 and 17.