In developing Kingdom, the Globe reached out to numerous community organizations, including local law enforcement. Officers from the San Diego Police Department’s Gang Unit attended rehearsals and provided feedback on their experiences on the streets of San Diego. Officers also took the playwright, composer, and actors on “ride-alongs” throughout southeastern San Diego, giving them a better understanding of gang issues facing these communities.
An exciting partnership was formed with Writerz Blok, a non-profit graffiti arts studio supported by the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation. Artists from Writerz Blok worked with Globe Associate Designer Sean Fanning and other technical staff at The Old Globe Technical Center to create an authentic physical production for Kingdom.
Playwright Aaron Jafferis served as artist-in-residence at Globe partner schools and helped train Globe teaching artists. Students learned about the creation and performance of hip-hop theatre and were encouraged to respond to the themes of power, family, community and survival in Kingdom by creating their own theatrical work.
In addition to providing in-class workshops, playwright Aaron Jafferis led a nine-session residency at Lincoln High for a group of twenty students selected by school officials. Students created their own short theatre piece, which was performed in Lincoln High School Center for the Arts’ black box theatre for an audience of fellow students.
Later in 2009, ReVision Theatre’s Kingdom Gang Symposium brought together adults and youth from various communities impacted by gangs for a focused dialogue which resulted in the creation of new alliances in peace-driven youth work. Panelists included a local high school principal, police chief, education specialist, detective, Boys & Girls Club Gang Prevention Director, hip hop artist, ReVision dramaturg, Kingdom’s writer and director, and conflict-resolution facilitators from Where Peace Lives.
Kingdom residency quotes
“Thank you for bringing Kingdom not only to the Globe but also to an underserved neighborhood in Southeastern San Diego at Lincoln High School, where nearly every Lincoln High student had an opportunity to experience this extraordinary new hip-hop/rock musical. Kingdom exemplifies the power of the arts to inspire a deeper understanding of the forces that have driven so many young people to join gangs, use drugs and engage in senseless violence against one another.”
– Victoria L. Hamilton, Executive Director, Commission for Arts and Culture, City of San Diego
“Last night’s performance of Kingdom at Lincoln High School set the bar for what the arts can do for the community. Using an articulate and exceedingly well-performed theatre vehicle, you addressed real community issues AND you did this in a setting and with encouragement to allow the community to participate in the dialogue. Knowing of the trauma that the community has suffered in recent months, it was very moving to hear the audience discuss the gang issues raised by the play. It does not get any better than this.”
– Peter K. Ellsworth, President, The Legler Benbough Foundation