Last week, The Davis Academy Middle School boarded buses and headed down to the Alliance Theatre for the world premiere of Atlanta playwright, Pearl Cleage's show, "Tell Me My Dream." Set in Atlanta, the play time travels between 1910 and the present day. Characters from both time periods explore the impact of historical events on their personal lives, respond to personal loss, explore their potential as human beings, and ask what, if any, responsibility they have to help shape their world. Cleage wrote the play specifically for a Middle School aged audience and the theater was packed with students from schools across Atlanta.
Following the performance we gathered in one of the Alliance's many breakout spaces for a very special panel. Sherry Frank, longtime Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee's southeast and Atlanta chapter and passionate advocate for civil rights, Reverend Dr. Gerald Durley, longtime Atlanta pastor who marched with and carries on the work of Dr. King, and Christopher Moses, the Alliance's Director of Education and Associate Artistic Director, inspired us with personal stories of how they found the strength to make the world a better place and challenged us to figure out how we will do the same. While the entire panel was incredibly profound and memorable, Reverend Durley's personal stories of confronting and overcoming racism as well as the moment when he looked out at our student body and expressed an overwhelming feeling of hope, were highlights. Our students asked great questions and we didn't lack for discussion.
After lunch we spent the rest of the afternoon in small breakout sessions. These sessions provided the students with various pedagogically creative ways of expressing their thoughts, feelings, insights, and questions. Rather than losing steam after such a heavy series of interactions, our students continued to pick up momentum throughout the day. I'm sure that Shabbat dinner table discussions provided yet another opportunity to share the day's learning.
Atlanta is a city overflowing with opportunities for cultural, historical, and civic learning. The culture of The Davis Academy is one that seeks to instill in our students the awareness that learning takes place both within and beyond the classroom. "Tell Me My Dream" was not our first trip to the Alliance Theatre and it surely will not be our last.