News Center Article

Stage & screen star to activate Portland youth 25 years after historic event

April 14, 2017

While he is in town performing his one-man show RODNEY KING, acclaimed stage and film actor, Roger Guenveur Smith, will connect with young people in our community for robust conversations about an event that happened long before they were born, but that resonates in the world they live in today.

Area youth and their advisers will have special access to the show and to creator and performer Roger Guenveur Smith. Artists Rep has partnered with S. Renee Mitchell, a longtime Portland artist, youth-mentor, journalist and teacher at Roosevelt High School to identify and invite groups across Portland to attend a free matinee performance and a workshop with Roger Guenveur Smith.  Mitchell, Smith and the Roosevelt students will focus on where performance, race and arts activism intersect.  At public performances, young artists involved with the youth-voice initiative poetry project Spit/WRITE will perform before the shows.  In the lobby, an interactive student art and reflection exhibit by Roosevelt High School students will be featured.

A variety of post-show discussions with Roger Guenveur Smith are planned to engage audiences in meaningful dialogue after every show. 

The Color of NOW’s Chantal DeGroat will moderate all evening post-show discussions. The Color of NOW produces and facilitates live events and post-event discussions that unite activists, artists, and YOU, to create a community where everyone can thrive. Led by people of diverse lived experiences, this work addresses the growing need to dismantle an oppressive culture by creating the opportunity for all voices to be heard and considered.

Saturday night’s post -show event will be a panel discussion with Cameron Whitten, Executive Director of “Know Your City,” and Professor Turiya Autry, Portland State University, Black Studies Department.

After the Sunday 2pm performance Chisao Hata, who is a performing artist, educator and social activist, will lead a “Move Back” which allows audience members to collectively process and build community through non-verbal expression and kinesthetic approach to explore and illuminate emotions and themes following a performance.

Rodney King is an opportunity for our Portland community to answer Rodney King’s plea that Smith asks us once again, “Can we all get along?” This story that started decades ago will open conversations about right now. Let’s talk about it. 

These engagements made possible by a grant from the Oregon Community Foundation.

Related Links

Portland Monthly Magazine talks to Roger Guenveur Smith and learns why he calls his show 'the gospel according to Rodney King.' Read the interview HERE.

Netflix release first trailer for Rodney King movie directed by Spike Lee. Watch it here.


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