Freedom Suite:
Transaction Being Processed

Eryn Rosenthal and Jennifer Harge by Andrea Rivera

Eryn Rosenthal and Jennifer Harge by Andrea Rivera


If education is a process of becoming, Freedom Suite: Transaction Being Processed examines education in a series of formative moments and their shuffling that inform the present.  Based on the experiences of South African youth activists from New Brighton, Port Elizabeth in the 1980s, this dance theatre work reflects on personal and historical moments of political and social consciousness that happen in adolescence, and their relationship to now.  Using foundational vocabularies of contact improvisation, dance theatre, and the transmogrification of school chairs, Freedom Suite: Transaction Being Processed reflects on transference, education, and intergenerational transmission at a time when many former youth activists are asking themselves: what was it I and we were fighting for?  Given the recent political context of student protests met with police violence in South Africa (and resonance with current activism in the US), this piece offers the stage not as trial, but as Rorschach portrait inquiry: a doorway of genealogical reflection on aspirations, education and freedom.


Freedom Suite: Transaction Being Processed

Direction and research: Eryn Rosenthal
Movement and performance: Jennifer Harge and Eryn Rosenthal
Choreography: Eryn Rosenthal, in collaboration with Jennifer Harge
Education and Community Engagement: Thabang Queench, Centre for the Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy (CANRAD), Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Costumes: Michaela Tanksley
Music: Gabisile Motuba and the Trip
Soundscore: Dylan Greene
Pre-show Kafka vestibule entry questioner: Kevin Goodman (Lauren Fitzgerald 3/28)
Dramaturgy: Kevin Goodman, Efrén Cruz Cortés, Bubu Mazibuko, Dylan Greene and Christine Crow
Co-production: The Doors Project and Goode Productions

This performance is inspired by ongoing research and collaboration with artists and activists from South Africa, many of whom were involved in different aspects of the anti-Apartheid Struggle as youth activists in the 1980’s.  I am deeply humbled and grateful to the SA activists and artists who have shared their stories and reflections with me, especially to Zolani “Whawha” Gaxamba, Mila Koltana, Mlamli Tsotsi, Tando Nyati, and Pat Thando Kondile.  I am also indebted to SA scholars and activists Yazier Henry and Heidi Grunebaum for their seminal research on post-Apartheid and post-TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) memory and trauma, and the psycho-geographies of displacement, war and genocide.  An Artistic Activism workshop with US artist Steve Lambert was also central to the development of this piece.

The first iteration of Freedom Suite: Transaction Being Processed premiered as part of Wishes, Lies, and Dreams*, a thesis concert for Masters in Fine Arts candidates Eryn Rosenthal and Patty L. Solórzano on March 26-28, 2015.  Performances took place at the Betty Pease Studio Theatre at the University of Michigan Department of Dance, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.  Heartfelt thanks to the U-M Dance Department and my dedicated thesis committee: Professors Amy Chavasse, Maria Cotera, and Jessica Fogel.

* Wishes, Lies, and Dreams: Teaching Children to Write Poetry is a collection of children’s poems from 1969-70 by Kenneth Koch and the students at PS61 in New York City.

The research, creation and performance of the first phase of Freedom Suite: Transaction Being Processed has been made possible through the generous support of the African Studies Center and the Rackham International Research Award of the University of Michigan, the Goode Family Foundation, the International Institute Individual Fellowship (U-M), the Alvin and Louise Myerberg Family Foundation, The South African Initiatives Office (U-M), the Department of Dance (U-M), and the Rackham Research Fund (U-M).  Original fellowship research in 1998-99 was supported by a President’s Grant from the Open Society Institute and the Henry Hart Rice Foreign Residence Fellowship of Yale University.

I am also grateful to the Lee family and the Center for the Education of Women for their generous support, and am honored to have been named the 2014-15 Elsie Choy Lee Scholar.


Photos by Andrea Rivera and Philip Louis Wachowiak:

© Eryn Rosenthal, 2015-16. All Rights Reserved.

Freedom Suite: Transaction Being Processed | 2015 | Projects