No Dream Deferred Hopes To Spread Reform Through Powerful Art

The theater company is hosting a day of performances advocating for criminal justice reform on Saturday.

by Alex Galbraith
September 7, 2018

Louisiana is no longer the world capitol of mass incarceration, but the state only missed that dubious honor by a hair’s breadth.

The state recently fell to second-place among the most-incarcerated places on Earth on the back of recent reforms to the criminal justice system that thousands of people fought tirelessly to enact. And being second-worst is nobody’s end game. So, the fight to fix Louisiana and the way it locks up so many of its citizens rages on.

There are many different ways that people are pushing to reform Louisiana’s broken system, reaching out to legislators and laymen alike with actions and happenings from the statehouse to the playhouse. Black August: A Call To Action is an example of the latter, hoping to keep the conversation around criminal justice reform going in the community through a day of performing arts.

The event is being put on on Saturday, September 8, by No Dream Deferred. That this year-old theater company would be the one to host a day calling for the end of mass incarceration makes a certain sort of sense. It was founded with fighting injustice baked into its very bones.

“The theater community [of New Orleans] is very much segregated and the majority of theater leadership being white,” explained No Dream Deferred Artistic Director Lauren E. Turner in a recent chat with Very Local. “We thought in a city that is majority people of color there should be at least one theater company that looks like the people who live here and programmed in a way that prioritizes [them].”

With a big vote on criminal justice reform fast approaching, broaching the subject in a day of performance and discussions couldn’t be more timely. A ballot initiative to end non-unanimous jury verdicts is on the ballot November 6. Louisiana is one of two states to allow juries to convict with verdicts that aren’t unanimous and — as was pointed out in a recent editorial in The Washington Post by singer John Legend — the decision to allow that has a fairly strong connection to the state’s overtly racist past. Non-unanimous juries allowed juries that were already heavily steered away from being representations of the state’s population to disregard the opinions of any outliers.

Ahead of the vote to possibly end this practice, organizers stressed the importance of making sure that the citizens of Louisiana understand the power that they have.

The only way we’re going to get [non-unanimous juries] to be changed is by having it passed,” said Vera Institute of Justice Director Will Snowden in a phone interview earlier this week. “This issue has been litigated numerous times in front of the Louisiana Supreme Court. It’s also been brought before the United States Supreme Court. It has been unsuccessful. Having the citizens of Louisiana [make it happen] is an awesome way to bring about this change.”

No Dream Deferred hopes to connect with people who might be on the fence about working to fix the problems that lead to mass incarceration and help sway them with plays and readings about the effects of mass incarceration, some of which have been written by former inmates.

“Art and performing art has a profound effect on the hearts of people who are in the audience,” said Turner. “Everyone has a stance in their head on mass incarceration and criminal justice reform, so there’s really a change in the heart that needs to take place.”

Arts Estuary 1024
Getting there
1024 Elysian Fields Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117, USA
Hours
Mon-Fri 9am–5pm
Sat-Sun Closed
More Info

Black August: A Call To Action takes place September 8 at Arts Estuary from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. The organizers are asking for a suggested donation of $10. Learn more here.

He has a distinct voice that you will come to know more as you follow VL NOLA. He has shown himself to be an intrepid entertainment and culture writer, who always knows about the best events, happenings and performers before anybody else. Now, he’s going to tell you all about them here at Very Local NOLA.

More Local Stories

Eat Play Stay Orlando: Sanford

On this episode of Eat Play Stay Orlando explore what’s new in the Northern part of town. Sanford has a plethora of breweries, bars, and delicious dining options to choose from.

Hometown Tragedy: The Pike County Massacre

On this episode of Hometown Tragedy: Missing in Milwaukee, we’ll explore what happened to Jerica Banks, her children, and how it impacted their community.

Six New Orleans parks that are perfect locations to celebrate 4th of July

Head to one of these six New Orleans parks to celebrate Independence Day in the city.

Cheap Date Orlando: Punk Rock & Pooches

Two Orlando couples shop vintage, search for the perfect slice, visit a post-apocalyptic saloon, and take the stage on blind dates in Orlando.

Fit and Fab: Free summer workouts in Boston

Cover photo courtesy Getty Images Looking to get fit for the summer? Still wary of COVID-19 or just looking for some sunshine while you sweat? Here are some Boston free summer workouts across the city so you can keep moving all season long! Seaport Sweat May 2 to Sept. 29 Boston’s biggest free workout series…

What’s On the Menu?: Farm-to-table

The farm-to-table movement brings locally grown foods to your plate. Not only will enjoying farm-to-table meals allow you to indulge in fresh, nutritional, seasonal dishes, but farm-to-table dining helps the environment and supports the local economy.  Check out these delicious farm-to-table restaurants in Greenville, South Carolina on the latest episode of What’s On the Menu?. …

A guide to some of the best Black-owned brunch spots in NOLA

Gather the crew together, make those reservations, and celebrate all things Black at brunch. 

A guide to Pittsburgh’s summer events must-do list

Check out our roundup below for the can’t-miss events happening in the city over the next few months.

Eat Play Stay Orlando: Tarpon Springs

In this episode of Eat Play Stay Orlando you’ll be transported to a thriving Greek community nestled on Florida’s gulf coast. From sponge diving to flaming cheese to a Greek bakery that supplies a ginormous amount of baklava to the entire country, you’re sure to fall in love with Greek culture in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

Dorchester doughnuts that pack a paczki

These traditional Polish pastries are the real deal.

Chef Dee Lavigne expands the only Black-owned cooking school in New Orleans

Deelightful Roux School of Cooking is the only African American-owned cooking school taught by a New Orleans native, and her class is a guide to New Orleans’ food culture.

drive-in movie theaters near Pittsburgh

Guide to drive-in movie theaters near Pittsburgh

Road-trip idea: Get out of the house and under the stars. Here are six drive-in movie theaters you can visit all summer long.

Brunchfaced: 14 Parishes brings Jamaican flavors Uptown

One word: rummosa. From the oxtail and eggs to the jerk chicken and waffles, you’ll feel like you’re on vacation at brunch.

documentaries about Pittsburgh

9 documentaries about Pittsburgh history

From punk music in the ‘80s to a documentary about the polio vaccine, there is a lot of local history to watch