End of Year Gift & Giving Ideas by Casey Llewellyn

December is hard

It helps me to channel my feelings of fear, paranoia, and sense of doom about the state of the world into efforts to change things in material ways toward the creation of a healthier, safer, more just world for everyone. If you’re looking for ideas of what to support this December and/or what read and give to your people, some of my favorites are below.

Support social change!

CJI (The Criminal Justice Initiative) — CJI is an activist-led fund that support grassroots organizing led by people directly impacted by the criminal justice and immigration detention systems in the U.S. I’ve been involved with CJI for 8 years and was on staff for 4, and I can personally attest to the transformative power of the work they support to create justice and safety all across the country.

Trans Justice Funding Project — Trans Justice Funding Project is a trans-led fund that convenes a panel of trans activists from regions all across the country each year to make grants to grassroots organizations led by trans people. Like CJI, TJFP often funds organizations before they have received institutional support from other sources and is transforming the landscape of safety and justice for trans people nationally.

Movement for Black Lives Action Fund — The Movement for Black Lives is a collaboration of organizations, individuals and networks “focused on a hopeful and inclusive vision of Black joy, safety and prosperity. That means freedom from violence and economic inequality, as well as the freedom to realize our greatest dreams.” With their policy platform M4BL is transforming the vision, discourse, and the landscape of work toward racial, economic and gender justice in the U.S. and internationally. The M4BL Action Fund is managed by The Movement for Black Lives Resource Table, which is a collaboration of activists and organizers in M4BL.

Movement Voter Project — Something that’s been really exciting to me in the last few years is the increasing connection between grassroots movements for social justice and electoral strategy. Movement Voter Project supports local grassroots organizations for whom get out the vote work is part of their strategy and how they build their base. Then unlike election campaign staff these organizations remain on the ground to hold elected officials accountable. Check out their browse all groups function to support elections in your area and/or around issues you care about, or donate without restrictions to make sure your donation goes where its most needed. Currently, MVP is supporting organizations registering voters for the 2020 elections!

Global Action Project — Global Action Project provides free after school programs for youth in New York City in which they make media that makes a difference in their communities. Their amazing videos are a testament to the brilliant young they support to tell “innovative stories that promote and amplify movements for social justice from low-income, new immigrant, TGNC (trans and gender non-conforming) and LGBQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Queer) communities.”

The Racial Imaginary Institute — The Racial Imaginary Institute is continues to play an important role in shifting the national conversation among artists, institutions, and art goers toward more honest and revelatory conversations about race. Programming to change the way we see and understand race continues! And TRII just received a $15,000 matching grant offer from a generous donor. Donate by March 1st to double the impact of your donation!

Books that have changed my life

Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown

In this book, author, activist, and facilitator adrienne maree brown is inspired by nature and brings her awe of natural shapes and processes to thought about social justice movements. She encourages us all to find a way to contribute to the creation of the world we want to see starting in small ways that allow us to make the contribution that we uniquely want to and are positioned to make. This book inspired me to more deeply commit myself to supporting movements for social change while pursuing my own pleasure and aliveness. Transformative.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo

This book is so important for white people to read! It is an easy read and provides a lot of straight-forward ideas about how to respond differently in conversations about race that are essential to acting against white supremacy in our daily lives. DiAngelo breaks it down. I learned so much! It immediate gave me more clarity on how I have felt and acted in conversations in which I enacted white supremacy without knowing it. If you’re interested in being an actual good ally, read this book!

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

We are destroying the earth as if we are not part of it. In Braiding Sweetgrass, author Robin Wall Kimmerer, a scientist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, offers deeply necessary wisdom toward healing our relationship with nature. I listened to her read it aloud, and it has changed the way I think about being a being and in relationship to plants and animals and the earth.

And a podcast!

I’ve loved listening to the Scene on Radio Podcast’s Seeing White series. And it’s been teaching me a lot! It’s a great way to balance out what you learned in history class and build your critical thinking about race muscles.

Jerome Fellowship at The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis! by Casey Llewellyn

Obsessed with my co-fellows: Marvin González de León, me, Haygen-Brice Walker, Sofya Levitsky-Weitz, Philana Imade Omorotionmwan

Obsessed with my co-fellows: Marvin González de León, me, Haygen-Brice Walker, Sofya Levitsky-Weitz, Philana Imade Omorotionmwan

OMG so thrilled to be in Minneapolis on a Jerome Fellowship at The Playwrights’ Center with amazing co-fellows Marvin González de León, Philana Imade Omorotionmwan, Haygen-Brice Walker & Sofya Levitsky-Weitz. I am learning so much about playwriting and friendship with these amazing writers. Also, The Playwrights’ Center is such an incredible, deep, ethical institution. I am so excited to be be able to learn from the amazing staff there and all the other writers involved. I’ll be developing my new play Foundation in a reading and a workshop there in 2019.

Speaking with Claudia Rankine on Tuesday: Writing for the Stage while Navigating Whiteness by Casey Llewellyn

UPDATE: Talk today is cancelled due to weather. Stay tuned for reschedulement!

Claudia Rankine and I will having a conversation about "Writing for the Stage while Navigating Whiteness" at 6pm Tuesday, March 14th at The Kitchen as part of Half Straddle: Here I Go, pt. 2 of You a series of talks, programming, and an installation curated by Tina Satter. It's free. Come see us. 

Featured in Necessary Exposure! by Casey Llewellyn

The quote below my photo in the gallery: “I am staging the worlds I want to inhabit.”

The quote below my photo in the gallery: “I am staging the worlds I want to inhabit.”

I'm featured along a lot of great playwrights in Jody Christopherson's photography and sound project, Necessary Exposure: The Female Playwright Project. Ren Evans and I read an excerpt from O, Earth and Jody took my picture in Prospect Park! I went to the opening at Dixon Place, and it was interesting and great to hear plays as an audio experience. Hopefully the absence of staging of the voices of female playwrights that Jody is calling attention to with this project will not be one soon. 

You can listen to the excerpt here

O Earth makes Broadway World's 11 Superb New Theatrical Experiences from 2016 list by Casey Llewellyn

"The Foundry once again dropped a woke-bomb on our hurting world with Casey Llewellyn's ambitious fantasia on contemporary queerness. The deeply moving play put a rainbow of queer characters in a flexible and timeless world of dirt and doors (impeccably designed Adam Rigg) to dialogue on the queer. The central lovers of Our Town (innocently and passionately enacted by Kristen Sieh and Jess Barbagallo) run away and meet Ellen Degeneres (Moe Aneglos, an enthusiastic dead ringer) and Portia DeRossi (Emily Davis in one of the year's most intricately layered performances) while Thornton Wilder (a soulful Tommy Heleringer) befriends a whale: all under the watch of The Stage Manager (Donnetta Lavinia Grays showing dutiful authority) who is getting tired of telling stories "about these white people." Llewellyn's many threads organically meld to become an essential conversation with a diverse and spectacular ensemble."

See the full list here

O, Earth makes Advocate's Top Ten New York Theater of 2016 by Casey Llewellyn

"7. O, Earth
Using commingling characters like Sylvia Rivera and Ellen DeGeneres, Casey Llewellyn put an inspired and inspiring queer twist on Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, playfully examining our community’s history and other universal mysteries. With fearless director Dustin Wills and a largely LGBT cast that included Moe Angelos and Jess Barbagallo, Foundry Theatre’s ambitious world premiere was almost too wonderful for anybody to realize it."

Wait, no one realized it? Like life? #ThingstochalkuptoanOurTownreference

I Am Bleeding All Over the Place: A Living History Tour, my collaboration with Brooke O'Harra, got an honorable mention too! 

See full list including many friends here!