Oct 16, 2019


Directed by James E. Reynolds

a black arrow pointing downward

History/Ourstory (H/O) is the second of four separate performances comprising La Mama’s 400 Years of Inequity and Protest observances examining the creation of the British colony of Jamestown in 1619 (in present-day Virginia) and the introduction of slavery through the arrival of Africans that year to its impact to the present day.

James Reynolds (guest curator), in collaboration with Kyle Dacuyan (executive director, Poetry Project) and Nicky Paraiso (La Mama Club programming director), creates a town hall-style presentation that weaves historical texts and responses to them from artists, such as performance artist Jerome Ellis, poets Imani Elizabeth Jackson, Kyle Carrero Lopez, S*an D. Henry Smith, Pamela Sneed and Kamelya Omayma Youssef and performance artist Robbie McCauley. The historical texts across the 400 years include a letter written in 1619 by John Rolfe reporting to Sir Edwyn Sandys, treasurer of the Virginia Company of London; the poetry of Phillis Wheatley, a 17th Century slave/poet in Boston; the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1883; the WWII-era federal act creating Japanese internment; and the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v Hodges legalizing same-sex marriage. Marginalization of groups of people has been the constant in the history of the 400 years since Jamestown and the creation of  “representative government.”

In HISTORY/OURSTORY the intersection of texts, poetry, dance and song will allow the expressions of those left out of the telling of America’s past to rightfully reframe the telling of the history of this country and to emphasize that all people have stories to tell because all of our lives are impacted by the events of the past 400 years. HISTORY/OURSTORY endeavors to breach the narrow parameters of what is traditionally considered “American history” and to privilege the voices and experiences of those who are seldom welcomed to the table of historic significance.


A response to and reflection on the 400 years since the British founding of Jamestown through historical text, poetry, music and dance at La MaMa. All events are FREE, find out more about the festival on our website.

2019 will be the 400th Anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans to be sold into bondage in North America: in 1619 at Jamestown.  There is a call from a coalition of organizations and individuals dedicated to dismantling structural inequality and building strong, healthy communities to families, organizations, neighborhoods and cities to observe the anniversary by telling their stories of oppression and resistance. Inequality is a threat to our health and democracy.  Nearly 400 years of division have created an apartheid society: we need a new social infrastructure to carry us through the challenges of climate change, decaying physical infrastructure, rapidly evolving jobs, underperforming schools, uneven access to health care and lack of affordable housing. Communities and organizations across the country are already observing the call, and addressing these inequalities in bold and impactful ways. Find out more on http://www.400yearsofinequality.org/

The show is produced under the following program(s):
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