“Let me not lose my dream. Even though I scan the veil with eyes unseeing into their glaze of tears. Let me not falter, though the rungs of fortune perish as I fair above the tumult praying purer air. Let me not lose the vision gird me, powers that toss the worlds I pray, hold me and guard less anguish tear my dreams away.”

Georgia Douglas Johnson draws parallels with William Shakespeare. I selected Bronze the book of verse because I wanted to feature this writer’s mellifluous way with words. During rehearsal, we dedicated hours to prose analysis and script analysis in researching what each of her words meant. It was a long process but we all learned, respectfully, so much more about the African American experience during the early 1900s, via Johnson’s words. The cast were asked to find ways to connect to the text, through their own personal stories of racial prejudice, hatred, injustice and ignorance. Georgia Douglas Johnson wrote A Sunday Morning in the South and Bronze in the 1920s and yet everything she expressed is still relevant today, ‘the South’ is still among us. The frequency with which people of African descent are being denied their human rights has been unceasing. The increased violence against Black people compelled me as a theatre-maker and as a black women, to address the issues of racially motivated hate crimes against Black people in both a contemporary setting and in the plays original 1920s setting. Overall, it has been the most personally rewarding piece of theatre I have ever produced, directed or featured in. As artists, we know that we have the opportunity to function in the capacity of agents of change, to be a vehicle for imitating for the sake of educating, to explore and making sense of our world, challenge things, confront things, be inspired and influential, to change our community and our world, or not.

Our cast were thoroughly prepped ahead of time, that we would be entering the rabbit hole, that there would be a lot about ourselves and those in our life whose ideologies we would be forced to confront and navigate. However, I ensured that as the director, we all got out unscathed and that we would instead grow tall from the process in knowing that what we were doing was our very best to reach inside Georgia’s words and create a world that would honor those who were maligned by the obscene, depraved and malevolent acts of cruelty against a people. It was a harrowing, heartbreaking, exasperating, vexing and a rage inducing experience for us as a cast, to learn and try to encapsulate the many emotions that the people we channeled might have experienced, we personally didn’t experience that grave horror, so there was an enormous circumspect understanding for those that did. Nothing was done with the intent to sensationalize or exploit, it was performance based on research, facts, steeped in the landscapes of an American past and yet pertinent to our current day. As an Australian, I was deliberate in not forgetting our ‘Great Southern land’s’ dismissive and abhorrent historical relationship with the first peoples, black people of Australia and just by the plays title alone, should have been enough to infer that connection.

I am extremely proud and humbled by the incredible cast, who were the most professional cast I have ever had the pleasure to work with as a director and a fellow actor within an ensemble. Many of who, had never acted in theatre, but I listened to my instinct and I knew they had it in them. I am thankful for the cast trusting my every decision. These actors should be working in Australian television, film and theatre and not relegated to background extra, filler roles, stereotypes and the like. These are hard working dedicated people who where a blessing to cast and work with. Thank you Charmaine Bingwa, Kwame Kamara, Virginie Laverdue, Sage Godrei, Tash Ncube, Uma Kali Shakti, Mark Williamson for your work, your dedication and commitment to this playwrights work. You each were amazing, engaging to watch and brought something different each night. Thank you for your fearlessness, your devotion, sensitivity and your empathy. You guys are actors to watch and I believe each one of you will do amazing things in your career. Thank you for your heartfelt words and the wonderful gift, I have much love for you guys.

A huge amount of respect and enormous thank you to Georgia Douglas Johnson for her words and for how those words impacted our cast and ultimately our audiences.

Stefan von Reiche, our beloved set builder extraordinaire. Thank you for your commitment, your skill, your incredible talent in creating amazing sets from found materials, transforming our stage and enabling us as actors to really believe that we were, where we believed ourselves to be. The set was an incredible labor of love, a standout, a character in itself, transporting us to another time, another place. You sir, are a diamond in the rough. We offer an extra thank you to you, for your delicious nightly vegetable soups for the cast and crew, which filled the theatre air and added that extra authenticity to our production.

Thank you to our Stage Manager, Lighting and Sound operator Rachele Bottomely. You did amazing under pressure, managing the myriad of tasks I threw at you and your professionalism and dedication was a blessing. I believe you will go far in your career behind the scenes.

Thank you to Ali Pouladi for being our box office dude, your enthusiasm and commitment to help out was very much appreciated.

Thank you to Celia Servida Finter for being our box office star. You are fab-u-lous!

Thank you to Andrew “Crikey” Crichton for your excellent props. The kitchen table became another character unto itself and we are grateful for your enthusiasm in assisting us to make this show as visually authentic as it could be.

Thank you to our local residents and wider community audiences who came out to our shows and who continue to support our space, our work and our artists. Thank you for supporting indie theatre in Sydney and showing us such warmth and love and thank you for respecting the content and themes of this production, which in itself deserves a lot of contemplation but particularly respectful acknowledgement that any type of systemic and social racism in any of its many forms, is monstrous and has no place in an enlightened, loving and peaceful society. Rachel Jordan – Artistic Director The Archway 1 Theatre Company