"No Strangers Here Today" was a coded message in the diary of Elizabeth Edwards, a Quaker farmwoman whose family was a link in the clandestine, bi-racial resistance movement, known as the Underground Railroad. Elizabeth’s great-great grandaughter, Susan Banyas, teams with jazz composer David Ornette Cherry, to deliver a powerful movement based monologue with live music that links American history, memory, and the activist’s spirit.
Elizabeth Conard Edwards wrote down a few of her memories from life on a farm in southern Ohio between January 1-July 31, 1864, three years into the American Civil War. Coded words woven into the account suggest that she and her family were part of the vast and allusive social network that defied the federal government, and, through great personal risk, forcefully opposed slavery and the system that supported it. Early doctrine of the Society of Friends, who settled in the new colonies in 1682, states without compromise: “War is incompatible with the Christian spirit. Slavery must be eradicated.” The doctrine connected the dots between war, power and oppression, a philosophy that continues to symbolize vigilance against economic, political, and personal tyranny by the master class. This evocative rendering of history is dedicated to the Ancestors whose co-operation inspires a vision of faith and action.
Susan Banyas is a dancer, director, and storyteller whose aesthetic and artistic roots as an improviser, dancer, and experimental performance artist led to collaborations through SO&SO&SO&SO Inc. The New York premier of No Strangers Here Today at La Mama E.T.C. is directed by choreographer, Gregg Bielemeier and theatre artist, Gwynne Warner. Ms. Banyas is writing book of non-fiction, The Hillsboro Story. Excerpts from this work will be staged, with music by Mr. Cherry, for the Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region Conference at Columbia University on March 14, 2008. http://www.ohmar.org
David Ornette Cherry, winner of the "2003 ASCAP-Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music", is a composer, arranger, and band leader. David has performed with his dad, Don Cherry, Ed Blackwell, Charlie Haden, Billy Higgins, Nana Vasconcelos, Collin Walcott, Phil Ranelin, Ralph "Buzzy" Jones, Justo Almario, and other great influences. His recent multi-media jazz recordings, Organic Roots and Ensemble for Improvisors are available on-line.
http://strangers.scatter.com http://susanbanyas.com http://davidornettecherry.com