Over the summer of 2016, a group of Durham high school students will put on the second Bull City Dignity Project, a documentary theater project based on the lives of Durham's community members. As they compile interviews with Durham residents from across multiple communities and generations, the cast members of Bull City Dignity explore the forces that shape the city's ever-changing landscape, history of inequality, and unique culture.
In 2015, The Original Bull City Dignity looked at Durham through the stories of the secretary of one of Durham's oldest AME churches, a former mayor who oversaw integration, and a car salesman who seems to know everybody in Durham. Exploring topics such as gentrification, LGBT+ history, and Durham's Civil Rights history, The First Bull City Dignity Project explored the landscape of our city and brought new meaning to the place we call home.
And now, Bull City Dignity is back for the summer of 2016. The theme of the 2016 show is "The Body," and the students will have a chance to explore topics such as health inequalities, mass incarceration, gender violence, and immigration. In this year's program, twelve Durham students will be selected to spend the summer acting, writing, and working closely with community members to create an all-new piece of documentary theater. The final performance will be showcased in multiple venues across Durham.
Leoncia K. Gillespie is born and raised in Durham. The Valedictorian of Hillside High's class of 2016, she will be attending Vanderbilt University in the fall, where she aspires to major in biology. Leoncia is excited to be a part of Bull City Dignity for her second year. She enjoys writing and performing spoken word poetry about family, faith, and her experiences. She has an ultimate goal of combining her interest in science and her love for people into a career fighting structural oppression in our healthcare system.
Dominique Cassamajor is a freshman at Morehouse College planning to double major in Business Administration and Theater Administration. Raised in Durham, North Carolina, he has spent the past two years as part of the Bull City Dignity Team, beginning with his role in the inaugural cast of the program last year. Dom is interested in the theory and practice of working "behind-the-scenes" in not only Performing Arts but also Film and Social Organizing. He enjoys performing slam-poetry-style monologues and documenting national activists and artists, and plans to continue his organizing work by facilitating social justice convenings and conferences.
Lara Haft is a rising senior at Duke from Rockville, Maryland studying Political Science and Religion. In the summer of 2015, she was part of the team that began the Bull City Project and she is delighted to be facilitating the program again this year. A total Durham-history nerd, Lara aspires to open a folk-archive and community organizing space in a little yellow house, where she will grow old and eventually be interviewed by the cast of the 50th Bull City Dignity Project about the "olden days" of 2016.
Cindy Li is a rising junior at Duke from Guangzhou, China majoring in Neuroscience and Dance. Their choreographic work is dedicated to creating performance art as a form of political activism, and making space for embodied practice of critical theory; they deeply believe in the transformative and liberatory power of public art that is made by, made for, and accessible to the people. Cindy is beyond thrilled to be a part of the Bull City Dignity team this year!