“My Soul Looks Back: Decades of Day Work Photographic Exhibit ” March 10-14

“My Soul Looks Back: The Decades of Day Work Photographic Exhibit” opens Tuesday, March 10 and runs through March 14 at the Studio@620, 620 First Avenue South in St. Petersburg. Produced by Your Real Stories, the exhibit showcases archival photographs from the people who shared their stories about the Black maids from the 1930’s through the 1990’s and the White families that employed them. The photos gathered for the popular “Decades of Day Work” theatrical series, speak volumes about how domestic day work has impacted the history of millions – across generations and ethnicities. The Studio @620 gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 12:00PM-4:00PM. The exhibit reception includes a staged reading and is scheduled for Friday, March 13th from 6-9pm.

The exhibit also features contemporary portraits of each of the “Decades of Day Work” storytellers by award-winning photographer, Boyzell Hosey. He captures the images of people who tell their stories about being day workers, employing day workers or being the children affected by the institution of day work.

Seventy-eight-year-old storyteller, Alonza Wade, grew up in Miami. His mother was a domestic day worker, who worked for a white family on Miami Beach. But, because of segregation and Jim Crow laws, she could not be on Miami beach unescorted. “She had to ride in the back of the bus to the beach,” he says, “Give the attendant her ID card, go to the next station and pick up her pass. Then, get back on the bus. At the next bus stop, the owner[of the house] had to be there to take her to work.”

Elaine Woodward’s archival photos tell the story of what she calls her “forty-six-year sisterhood” with her maid, Celia Gee, who was Black. Elaine, who is white told the people assembled for Gee’s funeral, ” I had always hoped she would outlive me because she was so much a part of my daily existence. I miss her now and I will think of her every day for the rest of my life.”

Photographs from author Dr. Yvonne Scruggs-Leftwich include one of her saying goodbye to her parents as she boarded the train for Europe to begin a Fulbright Fellowship in the 1950’s. She remembers their sacrifices, “My mother was a college graduate and her parents were college graduates,” she says. “But, the only work my mother could get was day work.

This will be the second installment of the exhibit. The premiere was at the Dr. Carter G Woodson African American History Museum in 2014. The introduction to “My Soul Looks Back: The “Decades of Day Work Photographic Exhibit” describes the development of this project:

“They said yes. Time after time when Your Real Stories asked to interview families about the institution of day work, Black people and White people alike said yes. They opened their doors and their hearts. No matter how personal or painful, they told us their stories and shared their lives in pictures. Now, the pictures help to tell the story of Black maids and their often complex relationships with the White families they cared for. Each archival photograph provides a glimpse of American life during the 1930s through the 1990s –through times when the nation had laws against human connections across race. This exhibit is a tribute to the sacrifices and successes of women who worked hard caring for other people’s families just to feed their own. And in the process, helped to raise a nation. Our souls look back in gratitude”

Your Real Stories invites you to “My Soul Looks Back: The Decades of Day Work Photographic Exhibit” March 10-14 at The Studio@620, 620 First Avenue South in St Petersburg. And join us for the exhibit reception Friday, March 13 from 6 to 9. Tour the exhibit, meet the local storytellers, and enjoy a staged reading from “Decades of Day Work.” Both the exhibit and the reception are free and open to the public.  Are you on Facebook? Let us know you’re attending the exhibit and share the event with friends HERE

 

CONNECT: The High Cost of Identity: Heritage vs. Assimilation

On Monday, February 23, at 7:00pm, Your Real Stories teams up with American Stage  to present an evening of theater, storytelling, and conversation inspired by August Wilson’s Radio Golf.

Identity is arguably the most important theme in the play where Wilson raises questions about whether Black culture and heritage can survive integration.

Who are we? How much do we owe our heritage? And what is the cost of assimilation?

Your Real Stories creates live theater based on interviews from local community members who have struggled with these questions, and this theatrical and conversational event is designed to connect the themes of the play to life in St. Petersburg, FL.

Tony-nominated actor, Anthony Chisholm  (a cast member of the current production of “Radio Golf”) presents a staged reading of the story shared by Bishop Preston D.H. Leonard, (Christ Gospel Church, St. Pete) and WFLA news anchor, Rod Carter will moderate a  lively panel discussion with the actual local  storytellers and other community members who bring a broad range of experience to the questions at hand.

Radio Golf  CONNECT Community Forum
The High Cost of Identity: Heritage vs. Assimilation
Monday, February 23rd  – 7:00-8:30 pm at American Stage Theatre
Moderated by Rod Carter, WFLA News Anchor
Admission:  FREE  Reserve Your Seat Here

Producers of “Decades of Day Work” at USF Department of Theatre and Dance

The University of South Florida, Tampa School of Theatre and Dance joins forces with Guest Artists, Dr. Lillian Dunlap and Jaye Sheldon, co-artistic directors of Your Real Stories in St. Petersburg to bring a week of activities designed to showcase the power of personal stories. The week begins Saturday, February 7, with a day-long storytelling workshop. Dunlap and Sheldon will then work with faculty and students in classes throughout the week and end with a free public performance, “Real Stories, Real Power,” on Friday, February 13 at 7:00PM in the Black Box Theatre (TAR 120).

Dunlap and Sheldon are co-creators of the popular theatrical series Decades of Day Work that typically uses professional actors to present the real life stories of Black maids, white employers and the sometimes contradictory and frequently complex family relationships that develop between them. Friday’s performance features students from the Laboratory Workshop: Solo & Duet Performance course, taught by Theatre Professor Fanni Green. The student-actors will perform their own authored stories, stories from the Decades of Day Work series, and memoirs written by students in Literature courses taught by English Professor Dr. Gary Lemons. Your Real Stories began in 2011 with the launch of www.yourrealstories.org, a story-sharing website. When the movie version of the book The Help was released, Your Real Stories directors decided to invite people to share their own real life stories about domestic day work, the limited job opportunities available to black women across the decades, and the effect of the institution of ‘day work’ on the families of workers and their employers. Your Real Stories partnered with The Studio@620 in St. Petersburg to present the stories of sixteen people in a three-part series. Then, Decades of Day Work IV at freeFall Theatre in St. Petersburg treated audiences to special guest storyteller Dr. My Haley, widow of author Alex Haley and collaborator with him on the iconic book and television mini-series “Roots.”  Each “Decades of Day Work” is presented in two parts: a dramatic reading of the stories by actors and a moderated panel discussion that includes the original storytellers and reaches out to the audience. Theatre goers have described the series as, “Very special and enlightening.” “Powerful …extremely well told… (an) important contribution to social healing.”

Inviting the Your Real Stories directors to USF is the brainchild of Professor Green, who was one of the professional actors in Decades of Day Work III. ” I began then to think about ways to share this fresh approach to storytelling with my own theater students,” she says.  Prof. Green also reached across campus to enlist Dr. Gary Lemons and his students to participate in the week long residency.

Your Real Stories uses storytelling and the magic of theater and other media to challenge people to talk and listen to each other across perceived differences of identity, experience and opinions. Come and see USF student-actors present “Real Stories, Real Power”, Friday Feb. 13, 7:00PM in the Black Box Theatre on the Tampa campus (TAR 120).  There is no admission charge.

CONNECT: Community Forum February 23, 2015 @ 7pm

Your Real Stories teams up with American Stage to present an evening of theater, storytelling, and conversation inspired by August Wilson’s Radio Golf. Identity is arguably the most important theme in the play where Wilson raises questions about whether Black culture and heritage can survive integration.

Who are we? How much do we owe our heritage? And what is the cost of assimilation?

Your Real Stories creates live theater based on interviews from local community members who have struggled with these questions. This will be followed by a panel discussion with the actual storytellers and other community members who bring a broad range of experience to these same questions.

By including the widest variety of people in their interviews, theater works, and discussions, Your Real Stories strive to create a framework for building communities that are stronger through awareness of the values, goals, and challenges of all community members.

MORE INFORMATION AND TO RESERVE YOUR FREE TICKET

The Making of Decades of Day Work – Nov 11, 2014

Making DecadesJoin Your Real Stories on Tuesday November 11, 2014 at 7:00pm at The Studio @620 in St. Petersburg, FL for an engaging program which will bring insight and candor to the process of creating the acclaimed Decades of Day Work series.

The Making of Decades of Day Work,” features onstage interviews with the creators of the popular theatrical series “Decades of Day Work”, amazing video clips from people connected to domestic day work by blood or other bond, and a chance to interact with some of the “Decades of Day Work” St. Petersburg area storytellers.

Attorney and journalist, Jaye Ann Terry interviews the series’ directors Dr. Lillian Dunlap and Jaye Sheldon about the experience of finding the families of Black maids and the families of White employers willing to tell their stories about day work. And willing to share their memories about the pain of “reckless eyeballing,” segregation, working in “sundown towns,” and the power of human connections. Dunlap is the daughter of a black maid who traveled for hours by train and bus, five days a week to work for White families beginning in the late 1940s. Sheldon grew up White in the 1970’s and 1980s in upstate New York. What they learned about race, racism and each other will inspire you.

For tickets and information visit http://thestudioat620.org/events/the-making-of-decades-of-day-work

Season Opens with Photographic Exhibit September 2-10, 2014

Mark your calendars for…

 “My Soul Looks Back: The Decades of Day Work Photographic Exhibit,” at The Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum, 2240 9th Ave. South, St. Petersburg, Fl.  September 2-10, 2014.

The Opening Reception, 

September 2 

6:00PM-8:00PM

  2014-2015 Season at a glance…

 Your Real Stories, Inc.

in association with

Communication Research Enterprises, Inc.

presents

 “My Soul Looks Back: The ‘Decades of Day Work’  Photographic Exhibit”

in association with the

Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum

September 2-10, 2014

12:00PM-5:00PM

Tuesday-Friday

Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum,

2240 9th Ave S. St Petersburg FL 33712

                Opening Reception

               September 2, 2014

            6:00PM-8:00PM

“Digital Storytelling–50 Steps To Documentary Success”

featuring

Andrew W. Thornhill

Founder and author of ‘The Digital Television Report’

September 10, 2014

6:00PM-8:00PM

Cash bar and snacks open at 5:00PM

Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum,

2240 9th Ave. S. St. Petersburg, Florida 33712

 “Disruptions”– Past, Present & Waiting Around The Corner”

The FCC Spectrum Auction, ATSC 3.0 & Digital Channels

in association with University of South Florida St. Petersburg

September 11, 2014

6:00PM-8:00PM

The Nelson Poynter Library, USFSP, St. Petersburg, Florida

140 Harborwalk Ave. S, St Petersburg, FL 33701

Storytelling Through the Ages
with a sneak preview of radio special

“What Are You Wearing New Years Eve?”

from the Fashion Media Project

Presented by

Thornhill Design Laboratory

September 13, 2014

11:00AM-2:00PM

Tampa Museum of Art

120 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa, FL 33602

“The Making of Decades of Day Work”

                                                 Jaye Ann Terry interviews YRS Artistic Directors

Lillian Dunlap and Jaye Sheldon.

November 11, 2014

7:00PM

The Studio@620

620 First Ave. South,

St Petersburg, FL 33701

“My Soul Looks Back: The ‘Decades of Day Work’  Photographic Exhibit”

in partnership with

The Studio@620

March 11-17

Gallery hours: 12:00PM-4:00PM

Tuesday-Saturday

The Studio@620

620 First Ave. South,

St Petersburg, FL 33701

“Decades of Day Work V”

March 25-27, 2015

7:00PM

freeFall theatre

6099 Central Ave.

St Petersburg, FL 33710

Community Conversation:

The Death of Malcolm X Plus 50″

April 16, 2015

7:00PM

The Studio@620

620 First Ave. South,

St Petersburg, FL 33701

 

Your Real Stories 2014-2015 Season!

For Immediate Release

 

Your Real Stories Announces its 2014-2015 Season!

Producers of the popular theatre series, “Decades of Day Work,” announced the “Your Real Stories 2014-2015 Season” at a waterfront  reception in St. Petersburg on July 31. The season opens September 2-10 with “My Soul Looks Back:  The Decades of Day Work Photographic Exhibit” in association with the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum, 2240 9th Ave South in St Petersburg.  An opening reception is set for September  2, 6:00 to 8:00.

The final day of the exhibit begins “Story Days in Tampa Bay,”  September 10-13.  This four-day event invites storytellers, writers, actors, artists, photographers, media professionals, futurists, and entrepreneurs to share information about new and beneficial ways to tell, develop and distribute stories. This season, the featured speaker is Andrew W. Thornhill, founder and author of The Digital Television Report. His presentation, “50 Steps to Documentary Success,”  is from 6:00 to 8:00 on Wednesday, September 10  at the Woodson. On  Thursday, September 11 from 6:00 to 8:00, Thornhill  presents “Disruptions–Past, Present & Waiting Around the Corner”  at the Nelson Poynter Library on the  University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus. This interactive session answers questions about what’s next in the digital media world and  how new graduates and  people developing their own stories can win.

On November, 11, in partnership with The Studio@620, Your Real Stories presents “The Making of Decades of Day Work,” with attorney/author/playwright Jaye Ann Terry interviewing YRS Artistic Directors, Dr. Lillian Dunlap and Jaye Sheldon.

For 2015, YRS has scheduled  “My Soul Looks Back: The Decades of Day Work Photographic Exhibit II” in partnership with The Studio@620, March 11-17. Gallery hours are 12:00-4:00 Tuesday-Saturday. And March 25-27, YRS presents the fifth production of “Decades of Day Work” in association with  freeFall Theatre, 6099 Central Avenue, St Petersburg, FL. A special guest storyteller will be announced later.  ” Decades of Day Work IV”  at the same venue  earlier this year featured storyteller and author, Dr. My Haley, widow of Alex Haley and collaborator with him on the book and television series, “Roots.”

The last scheduled production will be the first Your Real Stories “Community Conversation:  Stories, Food and You” on April 16, at the Studio@620. The evening explores what the death of Malcolm X  has to teach people of all races and religions, 50 years later. “The Death of Malcolm X Plus 50” begins at 6:00.

The Your Real Stories  mission is to use storytelling and the magic of theatre, documentary film and other media to challenge people to talk and listen to each other across perceived differences of identity, experience and opinions.  Your Real Stories, Inc. is a 501(c) (3) tax exempt organization. We invite you to join us for any or all of our 2014-2015 Season events. Come and be inspired.

YRS Artistic Directors Jaye Sheldon and Lillian Dunlap
YRS Artistic Directors Jaye Sheldon and Lillian Dunlap

About the officers

Officers

Artistic Director/Founder        Lillian R. Dunlap, Ph.D.

Artistic Director/Founder        Jaye A. Sheldon, M.Mus.

Board of Directors

President    Teresa Nixon

Secretary   Linda Steele

Treasurer  Susan E. Langsdale