Release of “Cultivating Dignity”

Update from Shade Research Collective Members, Alycia Bright Holland and Kristen Morgan


MAY 1, 2021

Cultivating Dignity—a newly devised work by Alycia Bright Holland and Kristen Morgan—was originally envisioned as a mainstage theatrical production, and will now premiere as a film adaptation. This change in format is made possible in part due to the involvement of Brian Day (Film faculty in the Performing Arts Department) as Director of Photography and Film Producer. This production will explore the lives of tobacco agricultural workers in Connecticut, during the time when young Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. worked at Cullman Brothers farm, to help pay for his tuition at Morehouse College. Using methods of theatre-devising drawn from Frantic Assembly, Tectonic Theatre Project and Theatre of the Oppressed, Eastern students and faculty, along with playwright Darcy Bruce, worked together to develop Cultivating Dignity.  As we did with Thread City in 2017, documentary research (conducting oral histories, researching archival documents—including photographs, film/video, and ephemera) was undertaken to create an original script. Consequently, the story dives deeply into issues of labor, migration, race, and cultural identity. A public film screening of Cultivating Dignity will be premiered May 1, 2021, and will be available subsequently for online viewing. There are also plans to create a small touring project to visit K-12 schools across Connecticut, in order to engage young audiences.